Why Cancer Survivor Brandi Mathis Says You Should Put Your Mental Health First
By Stephanie Powell
When faced with devastating news that she had cancer, Brandi had two choices: give up or stay optimistic. Friends she thought would be there, weren’t and she quickly had to realize the importance of mental health, faith and perseverance.
Now a cancer survivor, Brandi is blazing a new path for herself and cooking up big things in her career. She sat down with Pink Productions for a second time and shared with us her life-changing story of how putting her mental health first made all the difference in finding peace, happiness, and a fulfilling career.
It’s been a year since we last spoke with you, how has life changed since then?
I’ve grown a lot since then. I’ve grown mentally, physically and emotionally. Despite being positive all the time, I was in a pretty bad space this time last year. So many people depended on me, and I was often the person everyone vented to and leaned on. I kept a lot of things in and it caused me to be in a very bad space mentally, physically and emotionally. Now, I’m putting myself and my health first.
What has been your biggest lesson in the past year? How would you say you’ve developed as person since we last spoke to you one year ago?
My biggest lesson has been to put my happiness first, not sacrificing my mental health and wellbeing. That has been my biggest lesson. People will often bend over backwards for other people until they realize it’s too late. Your mental health needs to be first, not a job, a person or anything else. I’ve learned just how important it is to take care of me.
For those who may not know, you are a cancer survivor. I could only imagine how strong you had to be. Can you tell us about your journey battling cancer?
The entire diagnosis seemed to happen overnight. It was really a blur. I remember my mother crying in the doctor’s office and I was kind of in shock, it hadn’t hit me yet. It took me a little while to come to the realization that I had cancer.
I didn’t look at cancer as a death sentence, I stayed optimistic. I even continued with my schooling. My doctor advised me not to, but I enrolled in school behind my mother and my doctor’s back. I was determined to stay in school and work towards my goals. I knew that God was on my side and he had the final say, so I stayed optimistic.
What did beating cancer teach you about yourself and life in general? Do you look a life through a new lens now?
It taught me perseverance and how much I was able to persevere. It taught me to live and to continue living. It also taught me a lot about people. There were a lot of people who I expected to hear from that I didn’t, when I was going through chemo. People that I knew since grade school, I didn’t hear from, and they knew I had cancer. But then there were people who checked up on me and I am grateful for them. It showed me who was really in my corner when I was no longer the girl who could go out and party.
What encouraged you at your lowest? How were you able to press forward?
I held onto my faith, which is how I stayed encouraged and pressed forward. I may have lost my faith for a little while, but no matter what, I never lost my faith completely. I didn’t allow cancer to be a death sentence for me. I did a lot of praying and included positive thoughts. I put myself on a block schedule and I set aside 5-10 minutes each day, where I wrote down 10 new things I liked about myself. I couldn’t write down the same things, or different variations of what I wrote before. I realized how much I was blessed. I also realized that my words have power, good and bad. No one can decide my future because it is already written.
The last time you sat down with Pink Productions there was no mention of your passion for Media and PR, what made you decide to make the switch?
Well I wasn’t happy with my other job, and it was affecting my mental health. I knew I had to make the change to something I enjoyed because I was no longer happy, and I felt drained and unaccomplished.
I knew that regardless I was going to land on my feet - they might be a little dusty, but I was going to land on my feet. I also hated wondering, “What if…?” I prayed before the switch and I asked for signs, and then I realized the signs were right in front of me. I wasn’t happy, and that was the biggest sign. I want to see other people be great, which is why I decided to switch to PR/Media. I want to help people communicate their stories.
What can we expect from you in a year from now? Where do you see yourself?
Right now, I’m working on launching a blog, so next year it will be up and running. I will have one-on-one interviews with artists. I’m looking to do more events in Houston that help raise money for people dealing with illnesses. Medical bills can be expensive and I just want to help others. I’m also having my first event soon for my birthday, so look out for that, and my blog!
It was so awesome catching up with you, what advice can you give to anyone looking to change their circumstances?