As Millennials and Gen-Z, we spend our twenties trying to find ourselves, understanding what we like and don’t like, and figuring out what career we want to have. We complain about little things that happen in between accomplishments and seldom take time to just be thankful for all of our blessings. We forget that someone may be going through worse than us. While we are stressed over things that can be fixed, someone else is fighting for their life just to live and accomplish their dreams.
Tatayana Aaliyah is a 23-year-old, female creative entrepreneur and owner of New Nine Style House. She describes herself as a student, writer, editor, patient advocate, model, and a cancer warrior. Despite her battles and challenging moments, she has remained strong and continues to grow and develop into the woman she aspires to become.
Take us back to the beginning, when you first realized you were going to have to go through this journey of battling cancer.
In the beginning, I was going through a period for about two months of not knowing what was going on. There was a lot of uncertainty. February 6, 2019, was the official date that I started seeing someone because they found out that I had cancer in my uterus, which spread to my lungs. I’ve probably had 12-15 doctors throughout this entire process. Before we finally found out it was cancer, I was going to my regular doctor and talking to other Gynecologists, who misdiagnosed me with HPV. I also had doctors telling me I was pregnant, which was impossible for me. The way you’re supposed to get the cancer is from being pregnant, and I’ve never been pregnant in my entire life. So my body basically matriculated cancer out of nowhere and no one knows how.
It was a confusing time. I was really frustrated at the medical care system because I felt like they weren’t taking me seriously, and they weren’t seeing my warnings when I let them know my body doesn’t do this. I had to be my own advocate. We didn’t think I had cancer whatsoever. I don’t really know what I thought was going on, but [cancer] wasn’t on my mind. If I would have waited like the doctors wanted me to, I would not be in the condition that I’m in today. I don’t think I would even be here. That just shows me how little the system cares about our true health.
Seeing that you’re so young, in college, and trying to achieve goals, what was going through your head when this all began?
I felt very defeated and like I did something wrong. It felt like I was being punished by God and was the sacrificial lamb. It was a lot going through my head, more so because I was also diagnosed with Lupus in high school. I was questioning how much more can my body take and why am I going through this. I was also in a relationship at the time, and it put a strain on it. My emotions went through different phases all of the time. I was having these extreme chemos and going to six appointments a day.
Mentally, I had to be aware but I felt numb; especially when it came to my relationship. I didn’t know how to balance being sick, being human, being a 22-year-old at the time, or being a woman. While this was happening, I also went through the grief of the loss of my brother last August . I became depressed and suicidal right before my 23rd birthday, and I never had mental illness issues before this. My hair fell out so I felt ugly. I lost 10 pounds in a week, gained it back just to lose it again from throwing up. All because of the treatments. Beauty had to strengthen from within because I did not see it looking in the mirror.
It also wasn’t just physically and mentally exhausting, but financially as well. At a certain point, I felt like a burden to everyone who had to take care of me. My Mom and I had no clue how we were going to afford any of this. The road ahead is still foggy, but with God anything is possible.
What inspired you to keep going and start working on your company through your health journey?
New Nine Style House has been a thing since 2016, I just didn’t know anything about business until I got into the entrepreneurs of Atlanta world. I actually won a free ticket to the Beauty Conference after I was diagnosed, and that inspired me. I couldn’t work anymore because cancer had taken all of my time and mental state at that point. If I was going to make money and sustain myself, I needed to work on New Nine Style House and my modeling jobs as well.
Shortly after the Beauty Conference, I booked a modeling job with Hotel Clairmont and signed my first client with New Nine Style House. So I just decided to keep working. I never really wanted to work for anyone, even when I was younger I always knew I wanted to run my own empire. Everything that went on at the beginning of last year accelerated it. Everything happens for a reason and God places a future in us that we can see. I was still working through my treatments and working on myself mentally. If I stopped, then I let cancer win. I’m also very grateful for my strong support system.
What is your main goal going forward?
First, to let people know the power of God, and what He can do. He’s done so much for me, even when I wasn’t a huge believer. Secondly, to be a patient advocate because a lot of people aren’t aware of the justices they have as a patient. A lot of people that have rare conditions and illnesses don’t know their rights and are being taken advantage of by the same people that are supposed to help them. So I just want people to know that I am here. I want to make an impact with my styling company and with my writing as well.
My styling company means so much to me because that was my language when I was going through my treatments. I would wear monochrome colors according to my mood. I would wear grey and grey when I knew I would have a tough day. If I was feeling exuberant or resilient, I would wear cream on cream. Black on Black when I felt numb, and pink on pink when I felt jovial. I don’t care about the money, I just want to create a legacy and make an impact on my family.
Where would you like to see your modeling career and New Nine Style House in the future?
I would like it to evolve into a styling agency, something like a modeling agency but for stylists. A lot of times it’s really hard for us to break through this industry. Especially if you’re young and from a town out of nowhere, you need help. I would also like to be in Paris with my modeling, see myself on billboards, doing more interviews like this, and all-around build “Tatyana Aaliyah” into an impenetrable force.
What do you want other creative entrepreneurs to take away from your story?
That despite everything, any type of negative whispers in your ear, family, yourself, you have to keep going. Even if it’s something as simple as waking up that day and writing something down that reminds you of why you’re still doing this, do it. Also, make sure you’re taking time for yourself and making sure your mental processes are aligned with what you want to do for your future. You can’t have the mindset of someone who wants to sleep all day but wants to build a Fortune 500 Company. You have to progress on every level of yourself knowing it’s not going to just take a day or three months. Be true to yourself, don’t look at what anyone else is doing, and don’t listen to what anyone else wants you to do. Move by the beat of your own drum because only then you’ll find the true purpose of your business.