T-Boz has had a long and difficult battle with Sickle Cell. The disease has made her life very hard, and nearly claimed it several times. The frontwoman continues to push through and has used her story as a testimony over the years to inspire others. Sickle Cell affected several parts of her life, including motherhood. T-Boz opened up about how she was not even able to breastfeed without it almost took her out.
T-Boz has been open about her illness since breaking into the spotlight. The “Creep” hitmaker has used her platform to bring awareness for years. She even published a book called “A Sick Life: TLC’ n Me: Stories from On and Off the Stage.” In it, she details how she has struggled to live a balanced life while navigating her disease. T-Boz admits that she put a lot of intention into the books title. In addition to it being a pun on Sickle Cell, she claims it also speaks to how hard her life has been and how she was told she would not live past 30.
T-Boz heavily credits her mother for pushing her to still pursue her dreams despite things not looking so great for her after being diagnosed as a child. “She basically was telling me I could do anything that I set my mind to, and she was supporting me as long as I tried to be the best of whatever it was that I chose to be in life,” Watkins said.
When asked by Robin Roberts to describe what Sickle Cell is in a 2017 interview, T-Boz said, “The easiest way to describe it is oxygen isn’t getting to our vital organs. So, if it’s your legs, you can’t walk. Your arms, you can’t even hold a pencil and write … I went through so much.” The CDC gets more specific, revealing that with Sickle Cell, your red cells become rigid and sickle-shaped. It’s a hereditary disease most common in people of color.
T-Boz says that the death of her group member Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in 2002 made things worst for her since she had just gotten out of the hospital three days before. Lisa’s passing made her even sicker, becoming one of the hardest times of her life. T-Boz credits CBD and massage therapy with helping her alleviate her symptoms over the years. She also avoids high-altitude cities while touring, like Denver and Albuquerque, since they can trigger her.
T-Boz opened up about another incident that triggered her, breastfeeding. After attempting to breastfeed her daughter Chase Anela Rolison, T-Boz’s body shut down. She told PEOPLE in 2017, “sickle-cell patients need every drop of fluid they can get, and losing that much breast milk almost stopped my heart. Eventually, my body shut down, and I fell into a coma. I spent three days unconscious in the ICU.”
T-Boz also battled a life-threatening brain tumor in 2006 that also brought her close to the end. Armed with all of her experience, T-Boz now does a ton of work bringing awareness to Sickle Cell and the people who suffer from it. “You have to be your own advocate,” she believes.