Brandi Mathis: From Freshman to Fighter
By Bridgett Bradley
Brandi is a fighter who was determined to not let cancer take over her life. She opened up to us in 2016 about being diagnosed as a freshman in college. Read how she stayed engaged in school even while on chemotherapy, and how she plans to use her experience to help others.
Tell us, what is your outlook on life?
My outlook on life reflects my current focus, which is being unapologetically happy and helping anyone else get to that point. Since my graduation from college, I have realized that I can try to plan and map out my future as much as possible but if it is not in God’s plan then it will not happen. With all of the different obstacles that I have overcome, I’ve realized that gaining happiness within oneself is what works best for me. Unfortunately, many people are not happy with themselves, their current career path or whatever else the case may be. I believe that people must realize and understand that everything happens for a reason and choose not to let anything deter them from their dreams. It is only then that things will begin to fall into place as they should.
Did you experience any insecurities growing up, if so how did you overcome them? What advice would you give to someone with those particular insecurities?
My biggest insecurity was my weight and body. I was on chemotherapy for 9 months. Afterwards, I was prescribed steroids to make sure that I actually continued to eat, this caused me to gain nearly 30 pounds in the first two weeks and brought on the stretch marks and insecurities. It got to the point where I would only post a selfie from the neck up because I didn’t want anyone to see my entire body. The epiphany came one morning when I was attempting to squeeze myself into a dress and realized that the only person who could make the change I wanted to see was me. I started working out, eating right and did what I wanted at my own pace. The weight began to shed off and I saw improvements in my life, overall. I was happier. I was healthier. And, it definitely showed. For anyone going through any physical insecurities, I’ll say if there is something that can be done in a healthy and benefiting way then go for it but do it for you not anyone else! If something cannot be changed, then embrace it in full. God makes no mistakes.
You’re also a fighter, a cancer survivor. Tell us more about your success story and how you beat cancer?
I was diagnosed on March 25, 2012, the spring semester of my freshman year—so you can understand how hard the experience hit me. The entire diagnosis literally happened overnight. One day I was sick with what I and other doctors at SFASU thought was strep throat and the next day I was at MD Anderson starting chemotherapy. I could go on about the difficulty of the struggle but I would rather express how blessed I am. I didn’t beat cancer on my own. I had the best support team of friends and family. And, I had the most awesome team of doctors by my side. The key though was my faith that everything would work out because I had God on my side and he makes no mistakes. Unfortunately, most people see cancer as a death sentence…not me! I would take all of my pills, which was about 24 pills a day, every day on time. I would eat even when the nausea was kicking my behind—from being hooked up to an IV for 5-7 hours a day, Monday through Friday. I was so determined to succeed that I took classes online from my university while receiving chemotherapy to make sure that I didn’t fall behind. Success is within everyone: all that matters is how determined you are to get there.
Wow, that’s an amazing story. I know that you are a brand ambassador for The Hive Society. How did that opportunity come about?
I first heard about The Hive Society on Twitter after reading a recap article on an event called Hashtag Lunchbag, written by Raquel Seymone. I loved the idea of a diverse group of individuals, in my age range, actually giving back to Houston. The Hive Society is all about promoting philanthropy through music, the arts and the creative culture, which is something that I truly wanted to become a part of. In January 2015, I interviewed and made it through to join one of the best non-profit organizations in Houston. A whole year later, I have made many awesome friends and participated in a lot of dope community service events. There are always events going on and awesome articles to read on the site (hivesociety.com) that aim to keep the philanthropists of Houston engaged.
What you do you have planned for your future? What are your ultimate goals?
Well I recently graduated from Stephen F. Austin State University in December 2015, so I’m currently embracing the transition of being in Houston again. Just full-blown “adulting” now and it’s a tad bit harder than I thought it was going to be. I currently have a couple of projects that I have been working on and saving for that will be debuting soon! I’ve gained a new inspiration for going outside of my comfort zone and trying new things, as far as my career is concerned. My ultimate goal is to launch my non-profit by the age of 29 so that, by 30, it will be up, running and making an impact in the Houston area.