Overcoming cancer to to achieve your dreams
Author Bradley Finnearty
Adversity is defined as an adverse or unfortunate event or circumstance. That does not quite come close to the kind of adversity that some have to deal with. When you have to deal with fighting cancer twice that would definitely be what one would call adversity.
Tonya (SportzKelz) Kelly is one of those people that when you talk to her you just know from the first few minutes that she is someone with a special outlook on life. She has defeated both Thyroid and Cervical cancer in her life. One type would be enough, but two? Then there is the time and work it takes to go to college to become a 1st grade teacher and have a family. Let's add to that raising teen daughters. Oh don't forget working to achieve a dream of being a sports commentator. I am tired just writing that.
I met Tonya through a mutual friend who told her about my webmaster skills. After our first phone conversation I became a fan. It was easy to pick up on her love of life. Her love of what she was trying to achieve. We talked for about a half hour or more on our first conversation about what she wanted from her website, about our mutual love of the Dallas Cowboys and more. She is easy and fun to talk to. We have had many conversations sense then about any number of things. But the thing that has been constant is her joy for life. It is also very contagious. She has managed just by being herself to be an inspiration to me. I find it hard to feel sorry for myself because I am tired or overworked when she has overcome so much to make it to where she is today.
She has worked to become a sports analyst and build that into her own brand. Her show On The Move With SportzKelz will be officially one year old this month. But that is just a part of the good news for her. She is now in a new studio. One where her fans can come and watch the show as it happens live. You can also watch the show on her Youtube Channel.
I recently had an opportunity to ask her some questions for this article. That interview is below.
Brad: When did your love of sports start? What things did you play in school?
Tonya: The love I have for sports started at the age of 8 years old in 1978. I am the oldest of five children and on the weekends it was to either cook or watch TV. I chose to watch sports with my father and I became a sports fanatic. I didnt play many sports in school I ran track my junior year. I loved watching Football and Basketball as I grew older my love for sports has now included attending live Baseball games, hockey and golf.
Brad: How long have you been a teacher? Do your students know about your dream and how do they feel about it?
Tonya: I have worked in different capacities in the education field for 5 years. I became a Lead Teacher last school year and I absolutely love it. My students are aware of my dream job every Monday we share "What we did over the weekend" I sometimes share hightlights of different events I attend.
Brad: There is a big separation between being a teacher and a sports analyst and both require a large amount of energy and motivation. How do you find the energy and motivation to make that switch every day?
Tonya: I have been a sports fanatic since I was 8 years old. The blessing of owning my own sports show and being an Educator is both allow me the pleasure of working in careers that I am passioniate about. Without becoming an Educator I would have never been able to see my dream come to life. Also, having the best support system in the world my family. My familly gives me all the love in the world and keep me ground plus they know it’s another outlet for me so they won't have to hear all the sportstalk I do all day long at home LOL.
Brad: Religion or spirituality are a big part of your life. Has it always been there?
Tonya: My upbringing was Apostolic Faith. My faith is THE MOST MAJOR part in my life since I was born. My entire family was rooted and grounded in the word of GOD. As a spiritual person I always believe GOD brings things to you when you are ready to handle them. Talking sports was my passionate but to run my own sports show I know 5 -10 years ago I would have not been able to handle the responsibility and challenges seen and unseen that come along being in this business.
When I launched my show in October 2016 GOd and my Father was a main focal point in me being at this place in my life now. My favorite quote that resonates with me in everything I do is " I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me" Phillippians 4:13KJV
Brad: You are a two time survivor of cancer having won the battle against both Thyroid and Cervical cancer. It takes a huge amount of personal strength to fight it once. How did you find the energy and drive to do it twice?
Tonya: GOD and this UNWAVERING passion to live. When Cancer Strikes your body, emotionally, physically and mentally the first thing you want to do is JUST cry and DIE. Cancer takes a certain amount of STRENGTH to exuberant daily even in remission. You must always stay Faithful and prayerful that when complications happen you can invision being the BEST you everyday. I have a wonderful family support system so when my apperance is altered which sometimes it does I still FEEL Beautiful and Fierce within.
BELIEVE in everything you DO even when no one believes in you.
Brad: Tell us about how cancer has affected your life?
Tonya: I can't even begin to tell you how CANCER affect your life, From being asked are you a man, why are you baldhead, not able to obtain employment, not able to be insured my list could go on and on. Cancer at one time literally consumed my life because I was scared and very afraid. Learning to live with Cancer is a process there are days you are fine and there are days you are emotional. People rarely know what to say and you have to educate people on appropriate things to say to you. Having this disease is not a life sentence anymore more for me. I wake up and say a Prayer for allowing me the strength to see another day.
Brad: You are a big supporter of people who want to reach for their dreams. You yourself have worked hard to achieve your dream of being a sports analyst. Take a few minutes to tell people who are working for their dreams about what it means to you to be on your way.
Tonya: Five things I have learned pursuing my Dreams.
1. Friends and Family will not support in ways you think they should.
2. Your VISION is yours so follow your JOURNEY.
3. Always see the Lesson of NO and keep going. The NO is just word that tells you the door is not meant to be open right now.
4. BELIEVE in everything you DO even when no one believes in you.
5. Faith and Favor is everylasting.
6. Always show others that you can follow and reach your dreams if you only Believe in your purpose.
Brad: I know from working to achieve my dreams there are moments of self doubt. Times when your not sure if you will ever make it. Have you ever had those moments in your life?
Tonya: I have self doubt daily that is away of life. You wouldn't be human if you didn't have those moments in your life. A media analyst once told me he embraces and loves the self doubt moments because it gives him time to reflect on why he was having those moments and look for a better way to understand the situation at hand. I'm learning to embrace those moments but OMG they leave you vulnerable and that is sometimes a hard emotion to handle. To achieve the moments I stop and take time to reflect and review on why I have these feelings to give me a better understanding what I can do better.
Brad: Who have been the inspiring people in your life that you looked up to when you had moments where you doubted that you might be able achieve your goal?
Tonya: MY Father has been those inspiring. Even though my father has passed he was the first one who taught me how to live and breathe sports and I know everything that is happening is because of the belief he had in me. My dad would always says you probably won't work in sports because your a woman TannyaMae and now my dream is reality.
Brad: The new show on Just Talk Radio is a very unique format and is very interesting to watch live. How did the concept come about?
Tonya: When I launched my show I attended many different national media credential games and I started think what I wanted my show to look like, feel like, and smell like. The Book your seat on the couch was born. Just Talk Radio has been in business for many many years. Providing radio syndicated access. I am no longer providing an online audience now I’m offering a personal live sports show that my team and special guests can be proud to be apart of when they come to the show.
Brad: You have a great working relationship with the Columbus Fire and Coach Drew. How did that friendship and working relationship come around?Tonya: My partnership with the Fire happen when I contacted Drew to become a media outlet for the upcoming season. As I embarked on a new opportunity becoming a media report for the football team grew into a Family. I love the Columbus Fire family they embraced me and my team members and showed us all the love a new sports show could ever have. I am looking forward to attending and covering the PAFL Championship Game in Florida with the Columbus Fire.
People are often talking about how they don't have the time to do what they want. They are constantly saying they are tired and work hard etc. I am just as guilty of that as anyone. But after knowing Tonya's story and knowing Tonya I find it harder and harder to use those statements.
About the author
I am a certified webmaster who has lived a life dealing with bipolar depression. My goal is to not only help others dealing with bipolar and depression but to help those around them to understand what is going with their loved ones. I write about how I deal with it and hope that it inspires you to understand that you don't have to let it control you. You control it. I write the way I talk. I want you to feel like I am talking with you in a conversation, not preaching at you in a way that makes you feel like you have to do what I tell you. I hope you enjoy my blog posts about not only bipolar but all things that I write about.
What about you? Do you know inspirational people who have fought adversity and won? Have they also gone on to achieve their dreams?