( ENSPIRE She Did That ) Kecia J. Royalty Battles Cancer and AIDS While Becoming a Business Mogul, Speaker, and Mom
ENSPIRE Contributor: Octavia Johnson
Women throughout the nation are continuing to push for more opportunities and stepping into their own platforms. Most have one or more projects or careers that they juggle while maintaining their social lives. Then there’s Kecia J., who’s not only a mother but a well-known global speaker and business mogul who is battling Cancer and AIDS. Although the battle and journey was difficult, Kecia’s motivation to push through those obstacles has led her to many opportunities, like being on the Walgreens campaign called “Let’s Grow Old Together,” having her inspiration posts go viral on the Shaderoom, and working with actress Keke Palmer on her Snapchat platform, “Love is the Gag.”
Kecia strived to not only create her own platform but also educate others on her experiences with having Cancer and AIDS. She has an upcoming book, “Mind, Body, & SHE,” which talks about mental health and breaking down barriers. “For many years I suffered from anxiety and dealt with panic attacks. Aside from that during college and after my pregnancy I combated depression, which both led up to the inspiration behind writing the book,” Kecia said. Please see ENSPIRE’s interview below as Kecia speaks on her journey battling Cancer and AIDS while maintaining several businesses and projects.
First, I want to say your story is inspirational. As someone who has been living with Cancer and AIDS, what was that like? How did you find the courage to share your story with others?
I was initially diagnosed with AIDS sixteen years ago and almost immediately I knew that I wanted to share my story to help others. For me the moment I was told those exact words, it threw me for a complete loop. Growing up I did not have the education about HIV/AIDS, so with that fact alone, I knew I did not want others to be misinformed any longer and by me sharing my truth; I could be a part of changing the narrative behind the stigma.
When I was diagnosed with cancer, that totally changed the game and took me by surprise as well. I had just given birth to my daughter a year earlier and I was doing everything right from working out daily, to having a healthy lifestyle, that I did not understand how my body had taken such a shift on me. Unfortunately, because of my weakened immune system from AIDS, even though I am undetectable, I am still prone to get rare diseases. Once I was told that I had to immediately go into chemo and radiation therapy, my heart dropped. I have fought many battles before, but I had never been faced with such rare cancer that the odds against me were really devastating. Even throughout the process of treatment, I still had the desire to share my experience with others in hopes to shed some light on not just what I was battling but how important it is for me to stay positive and mentally strong during the process. The motivation behind wanting to share my story through the storm is simply because I understand that anything that happens to me isn’t about me. It is always about the bigger picture that always stares me in the face to remind me of what really matters at the end of the day.
Explain the day you went viral on the ShadeRoom when they posted your truth on the weekly morning inspiration posts. How does it feel to see your story being shared throughout social media?
The moment that it went viral my assistant at the time called me and was like, “so you’re famous!” I initially started laughing because I didn’t think it was that serious until my direct messages were flooded with individuals who were living in secret and not wanting to share their truths in whatever it was, that they were dealing with in their lives. From questions of, “How I deal with my health,” to “how is it I am so positive about life?” People were really coming to me for insight. At that point, I knew that I was starting to break down walls. There is still much work to do, but when you start getting people to ask questions and create a dialog then you have something positive brewing. Just from the ShadeRoom posting for that morning inspiration moment, it has opened a lot of doors of opportunity that I couldn’t have even imagined, just from people listening to 53 seconds of my truth. So, it was an incredible experience that caught me off guard, to say the least.
How did you and Keke Palmer meet? What was the process like working with Keke and taking over “Love is the Gag?”
That was such an awesome time! Yes, to be honest, it was all such a coincidence how it happened. I had never even heard of her platform “Love is The Gag” and at the time I had a decent following on Snapchat. I received an inbox from one of her assistants who said that I should shoot her a message about doing a takeover one day because one of their celebrity guests had canceled at the last minute. So, I did, and the rest is history. After that first time of me taking over, I literally just took her followers on a journey of showing how I live my everyday life loving myself through it all because self-love truly is “The Gag.” Once KeKe and her assistants saw the feedback from the first day that I went live it literally went, up from there.
The goal during that series was to show how showing love through acts of kindness is truly, “The Gag.” Instead of me doing acts of kindness, I showed love in the realm of giving back through gestures of love of self. The outcome was incredible. There were people from all over globally who had tuned in and then Keke posted me on her personal page and shared I would be taking over once again. Her followers from that point literally loved the days I would take over because I made sure I shed light on educating them on how I live with AIDS and remain healthy. Also, I would incorporate humor and real-life experiences to that, and they LIVED for it. Taking over on that platform taught me that often, we want to give and give; however, we tend to lack in providing the fundamental essentials for self. Not all gestures contain physical content, at times it can simply be with pouring into the spirit of others while educating them as well.
With living with Cancer and AIDS, how were you able to juggle being a business mogul and mom?
First, I will say the battle and journey has not been easy. While having AIDS, I had undetectable and leading a healthy life but when I was diagnosed with Cancer it seemed as if that whole ship just sank. Once, I gave birth to my daughter two years ago, I put into my mind that my body was unstoppable and that I could conquer anything because as many know, giving birth is not an easy process. When treatment began for cancer, it slowly started to break my body down in a way that I was not used to, so from that point, I knew that I had to get more solid spiritually. Since I couldn’t physically exercise, I would begin to nurture my mind and pray over my body and all the goals I set before me.
Next, I would make sure that I would fine-tune all my business ventures that I have established. From my personal brand to my real estate and trucking companies aligned with my foundation; I had to make sure that I was still on the ball when it came down to getting things done. With the help of many friends and family, I was able to see out a lot of aspects that needed to be done business-wise and as a mommy. So, you could say that my village along with me nurturing my mental state and stability has helped me flourish during this time in my life while battling cancer.
How has COVID-19 affected traveling as a speaker?
After battling and beating COVID-19 myself, in March 2020, it has been a shift in the make-up of how things are being done with my speaking engagements. However, since being mainly virtual it has been a great thing for me because after having to do chemo and radiation treatment, it allowed me to do some of my events live from my bedside. So, that was a plus for me, but nothing will ever beat the experience of getting to travel and see different cultures and to meet people face to face from all walks of life.
What advice would you give to people who are battling Cancer or AIDS? What would be your insight for those who want to continue to work and build in their fields?
The best advice I could give to someone who is battling any disease that has positioned them to have to move differently is, always remember that there is greater on the other side. That may sound cliché to say, but that way of thinking has always got me to the other side of all the many obstacles I have faced. There are times where it may seem hard, and that is an aspect of the journey that you will not be able to avoid, however, it is not about how you start but about how you finish. Often, when battling an illness, it gets very easy to get caught up in the “now” of things. “I am not feeling good right now” and “I can’t do this right now.” All of that is okay, but do not sit comfortably in that space! Don’t focus on being so hard on yourself because at the end of the day you are only in competition with self, not anyone else.
Learn to master your lane of purpose. Whether you are in battle mentally or physically, understand what you are called to do and master that. With this age of social media, a lot of people get intimidated by what things “appear” to be. Sometimes to refine yourself you must block all of the noise out and just strictly focus on your path of purpose. If that means that you must strengthen yourself in some aspects of your field or shut down all the chaos around you, including social media, then take the proper time to do that. Do not get caught up in the hype of what you think works instead of what is working for you. That way of thinking will drastically conquer those day-to-day struggles. The foundation of your success will always weigh on the strength of your spiritual relationship. Whatever that consists of. The importance of meditating and aligning yourself accordingly is so important for so many reasons. For me, I know that everything that I have gone through and who I am today has all to do with my faith in God and how I have devoted my life to align with the purpose that he has set out for me.
Kecia’s work, despite battling with Cancer and HIV, has continued to inspire. Her story is for all to hear, especially to those who may be going through the same issues. Kecia can be found on social media at Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat at @iamkeciaj.