Tionne ‘T-Boz” Watkins appeared on CBS’s “The Early Show” yesterday. During an intense interview with Harry Smith, T-Boz revealed that she’s been living with a secret for the last three years after her doctor delivered news she never imagined: she was told she had a brain tumor. The tumor was benign, but because of her sickle cell disease, surgery was risky. Watkins was told she could lose everything a performer needs: hearing, balance, facial movement, and speech if she chose to undergo the procedure.
“[I] can’t just go have surgery?” she asked. “They were like, ‘No, I’m sorry, sickle cell is a factor, that’s your reality and you can die.”
Dr. Keith Black from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, who is one of the country’s best neurosurgeons, met with T-Boz and eventually performed her surgery. According to Dr. Black, the tumor was about the size of a strawberry and a major, complicating factor was preserving the nerves. In order to remove the tumor, doctors had to tease the tumor away from those nerves, so they wouldn’t do any damage to the facial and hearing nerves. T-Boz faced the possibility of coming out of surgery with facial weakness or hearing loss or even worse, stroke or coma.
Tionne has been on a long journey trying to beat the medical odds and get back on stage. She lost her ability to speak for a day but soon realized that life is a gift and because of her experiences she’s going to make the most of each day:
“The day I got my speech back, the next day I said, ‘Now I’m going to start an album; I’m going to do a solo album,'” she said. “I was tired of this business. I was over it. But I’m like, ‘OK, God is blessing me to still be able to sing, hear, talk, maybe I’m supposed to do this.”
T-Boz’s “Early Show” interview below:
It is such a blessing that T-Boz fully recovered and made it back to the stage recently, where she reunited in Vegas with TLC groupmate, Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas.
T-Boz also shared with MTV that she and Chilli have plans to hit the studio and get working on some new music to be released sometime soon. The exact details, however, are still up in the air. “We’re talking about it right now,” she said. “Well, we haven’t started. We’re talking. … We’re getting it together, and then it will most likely happen.”
T-Boz on MTV