Author of Pretty Girl Blues, Jarlean Taylor, shares her inspiring life’s story of determination, courage, and perseverance.
Miss Jearlean Taylor was raised in a happy home in the Southwest Baltimore region of Maryland. However, at the young age of two and 1/2 years, she developed a rare form of cancer known as Rhabdomysarcoma. Her illness was first discovered at the University of Maryland Hospital in Baltimore, and doctors reported then that she would not live to celebrate her third birthday.
After several consultations, her parents were advised to seek a second opinion with other hospitals that specialized in Jearlean’s type of cancer. Her chemotherapy and radiation treatments began shortly thereafter at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, New York. Due to this rare type of cancer, Jearlean’s childhood would be interrupted as she underwent several reconstructive surgeries, numerous lengthy hospital stays, and several close evaluations. None of which were optional.
Since the age of 3 years old, she has had to wear permanent colostomy and urostomy bags, which aid her bladder and bowel functions, and which cause her to wear 2 ostomy bags daily. No one could imagine the difficulties that came along; low self-esteem, disappointments, insecurities, suicidal thoughts, too many surgeries to count, yet the greatest difficulty she faced was learning to love herself. She spent most of her childhood and adolescent years at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, fighting this disease and all that came along with it. The most challenging of which was having to wear the ostomy bags.
Her heart’s desire has always been to make a difference in peoples lives, but there was something internally that was unstable in her life. Her mind, body, and soul longed for answers. She displayed physical beauty, but was suffering on the inside with low self-esteem, pity, and unhappiness. Could her beauty cover up the hurt? She says her problem was cancer, but the disease was what she calls “Pretty Girl Blues”. She’d come to ask herself “Was this a label I placed on myself? or have I allowed others to label me this way?”
Through her faith, support from family and friends, and belief in God, she discovered who she could be in spite of her medical circumstances. Her insecurities did not change overnight, but she learned to be a survivor. She shares that she is now blessed to have her desires, passions, and dreams come true. She has been a fashion (editorial & runway) model for over 16 years, yes with two ostomy bags. Additionally, in 2011 she was nominated as one of top fashion runway models by Maryland Fashion Awards.
Upon a gaze at her outer appearance no one could ever tell she lives with these adversities, and yes, she still lives with some of the challenges. However, she determined that she would not allow her circumstance to dictate her future.
She says that through it all, God is her saving grace. She hopes to help those suffering with low-self-esteem by reaching out, encouraging, and uplifting them. “Pretty Girl Blues” is now her published autobiography. It recounts the story of her life as a cancer survivor and how living with ostomy bags has affected her entire life, but more importantly it shares how she overcame the negativity to now live a life that is geared towards helping others, full of passion and zeal.
It’s no secret to what God can do…and she is living proof!