Image of Jearlean sitting on a stool in a red dress with blue shoes.

Image of Jearlean sitting on a stool in a red dress with blue shoes.

I was just 3 years old in the backyard playing with my siblings when my oldest sister noticed blood in my clothes. She asked if I fell on something. My parents immediately rushed me to the hospital. It was days of testing; scans, biopsy, x-rays, and more testing. The results were something my parents didn’t expect to hear. The doctor told my parents that their 3-year-old daughter had vaginal cancer.

I was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Rhabdomyosarcoma or Rhabdo. It is a rare form of cancer most common with children in their first 5 years of life. These tumors are often found in areas of the neck, head, urinary tract, and well as the vaginal area, and they can spread. It was not looking good for me, but my parent’s faith was prevalent. I had surgery along with radiation and chemotherapy treatments. Additionally, doctors explained that, because certain areas were diseased from the tumors, ostomy surgery was necessary to improve my quality of life. I was then left with colostomy and urostomy for the rest of my life.

Image of Jearlean standing in front of a brown door.

Image of Jearlean standing in front of a brown door.

I was cancer-free a year after my treatments but left with two bags. As a young person with an ostomy, there were a few difficult moments. I remember starting school and being scared. I wondered would the kids like me. Will I adjust to being around others besides my family? I had many thoughts of uncertainties. I will never forget the day I had a blowout on the school bus. The bus smelled so bad. I was so embarrassed. I ran home without telling anyone. I wondered how my life was going to be. I got through those moments with the help of my parents. They explained that I won’t always have days like that. They encouraged me to stay positive and take a negative situation and turn it into something good. I learned I could overcome “incidents.” It was then I would be more aware of changing my bags more frequently. My ostomy journey taught me many things about life and that is, “life” happens to us all. We are more than we have become and unforeseen circumstances do not make us less than.

I learned as years went on to have “Defeat over my Disease” and “I am more than my Ostomy”. Today, I am a fashion model, entrepreneur, ostomy advocate, author, and showing others no matter what unforeseen circumstances happen; we are all different to make a difference.

Jearlean Taylor


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