Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ten Years, Ten Doctors & a Two-Pound Fibroid: Conya Doss

When soul singer Conya Doss agreed to open up to me about her harrowing experience with uterine fibroids for Heart & Soul magazine, I had no idea we'd talk for more than an hour.

Conya's battle with the tumors and the impact they've had on her life is nothing short of remarkable. According to one study, 50% of women suffer with these growths, which develop based on estrogen production from the smooth muscle layer of the uterus.

The fact that fibroids are two to three times more likely to occur in Black women than in other American women
is why I am so appreciative of having the opportunity to help Conya share her experience and her sage advice. Because I have fibroids as well - thank God they've remained tiny - I was moved by her story and I hope you will be, too.

Singer Conya Doss Opens Up On Her Battle with Fibroids

Soul singer Conya Doss caught our attention as a former teacher who started her own music label to share her feel-good music with the world. Now she opens up about her battle with fibroids that followed her along the way.
By Conya Doss as told to Joyce E. Davis

About 10 years ago I went in for my normal check up and the nurse practitioner said too casually, “Oh, you have fibroids,” and that was all. I had an ultrasound and proceeded to see 10 doctors over the next decade.

The first doctor measured the fibroids at maybe an inch and half and told me, “Don’t worry. They’re really small, but later down the line you’ll be looking at a hysterectomy.” He basically said, “If they don’t bother you, don’t bother them.”

I went to another doctor because I was concerned, but she didn’t even measure the fibroids. As I started talking to women about fibroids, I found out that basically every African American woman I know has had them and out of all of us I’m the only one who hasn’t had a hysterectomy.

Read about the rest of Conya Doss' experience with uterine fibroids at Heart&SoulMag.com.

Conya Is Fierce

Through Conya's decade-long ordeal with fibroids she was able to create some amazing music as well, including Blue Transition, her latest album, which features the beautiful All In You [Video].

And this Conya classic is my jam! What I'd Do [Video]

Not up on this soulful sister? Check out this cool Conya Doss YouTube playlist and keep on Enjoyceinglife!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Words of Wisdom from Alvin Ailey's Judith Jamison

My history with Judith Jamison is long. Before I reached double digits, I'd traveled with a dance troupe from Atlanta to New York, where I danced at the Alvin Ailey studio. When I moved to New York to work at Fortune magazine after graduating from college, I was living in the NYU dorms before I got an apartment. Grocery shopping in my neighborhood, I ran into the striking Jamison in the produce section. Needless to say I nearly accosted her with my ardent admiration. And, of course, I've seen the company perform under her leadership numerous times.

So I had to be front and center - well, third row - when she came to Spelman College today.

I just left that wonderful campus chat with Jamison, who is in her last six months as the artistic director of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She shared some interesting experiences and wonderful wisdom to a packed house in her conversation with Spelman President Beverly Daniel Tatum and Spelman student Ashley Grisham. Below are a few of the pearls she blessed us with. Love creativity!

"To change the world, start with yourself. See yourself in others and don't negate anyone."

"Be in the moment but be forward thinking in the moment. Be ready for that precipice."

"Dance came from the people and it needs to be delivered back to the people." - Judith Jamison quoting Alvin Ailey on being involved in the communities in which they dance. She shared that Alvin Ailey Extension, a program of dance and fitness classes designed for the general public that teaches everything from Broadway theater dance to Samba and Hip Hop, started out with 500 students six years ago and now tops 49,000. Now that is commitment to community!

Enjoy videos of the Alvin Ailey Tribute to Judith Jamison

Check out this excerpt of Reminiscin,' a dance Jamison choreographed that features music from legendary female jazz singers Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone, Roberta Flack, Regina Carter and Diana Krall.

Judith Jamison is a beacon of creativity. A light that will shine forever because she thrives on positivity.

My desire is to do the same. Keep on Enjoyceinglife!

Monday, February 7, 2011

Get Your HIV Test at the Dentist?

Did you know that you can get an HIV test in your dentist's office? Well you can, according to celebrity dentist, Dr. Catrise Austin, who was gracious enough to let me interview her on Super Bowl Sunday, minutes after the Green Bay Packers won. Below is an excerpt from the piece I wrote on Heart & Soul Magazine's website, which launched its AIDS page today - National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day. Do you know your status?

New HIV Testing Location? The Dentist’s Office

The next time you visit your dentist, you may want to request a rapid oral HIV test. If your dentist is Catrise Austin, D.D.S., you won’t even have to ask because her office offers the test to each of their patients at the beginning of their biannual hygiene appointments.

Since the results of the swab take only 20 minutes, the patients leave with their results the same day. A Crest brand ambassador whose clients include Toni Braxton, Wendy Williams and Common, Dr. Austin has the first private dental practice in the nation to get certified and trained to offer the OraQuick ADVANCE® Rapid HIV test.

Heart & Soul: How common is it to find the HIV infection in an oral cavity?
Dr. Austin: From what I know, at least 90 percent of people living with HIV will develop symptoms like yeast in the mouth, canker sores and a thin red band around the gum line. The oral cavity is one of the first places where signs and symptoms of HIV will show up. So if I’m checking for cavities, gum disease and oral cancer, why wouldn’t I check for HIV, especially when the test is just a swab of the mouth, which is 99.4 percent accurate?

Read more at Heart & Soul.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Buy a Book & a Child Gets One for Free

There is something about getting lost in the characters and the story of a good book that gives me a feeling like no other. I love movies. There are some television shows that make me howl with laughter. I've cried during plays and concerts. But nothing tops curling up with a good book and letting the writing and my imagination take me to a place where my soul is stimulated and satisfied.

This love of literature is why I've created a life for myself around reading and writing and why I am more than excited about the powerful initiative that my friends, the incredible writing pair Nick Chiles and Denene Millner, have founded. They've launched North Paran, a new online book store featuring books for, by and about people of color, which will provide a free book to a child in need for every book that is bought.

I think I need to state that again. When you buy a book from North Paran, a child in need somewhere in the world will receive a book as well. Now how in the WORLD can you beat that deal!?!? It's an all-good purchase. Everybody wins! Your family gets new books and you get to gift others with literature. Yep, the reader and writer in me are both elated.

To jump start their initiative, North Paran is in a campaign to give 100,000 books away to children during Black History Month. Check out the video where Nick, Denene and their lovely daughters share their passion around the importance of reading and why they joined forces with North Paran. I guarantee you will want to purchase some books - and more important, give books - right away.

And don't worry about finding something to read on North Paran. They've got thousands of books. From works for children to art, romance, science fiction, history, classics, biographies and entertainment, you'll surely find many options to fit your tastes. Or step outside the box and try something new. Need a suggestion? I'd like to humbly put forth my own novel for teens, Can't Stop The Shine, which has just gone into its second printing! Yea!

Whether you purchase my book or not, I hope that you visit North Paran and spread the word via Twitter, Facebook, blogging and email about their commitment to uplifting works by writers of color. Sign up for their electronic newsletter, check out their blog and expert book recommendations, and most of all help children who may not have access to books be able to enjoy the amazing experience of reading!

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