Tanieka Randall is the founder Tee’s Hair Secret, a booming natural hair care line that she created straight from her kitchen. Her home-based business has led her to become an international speaker and an inspiration for women in business. But what people may not know is that the business was created out of desperation to solve to her own problem–cancer, not coins! Tanieka was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2011 and lost all of her hair.
Sounds like the typical cancer story at first glance, but how does a former atheist remain positive in her new-found faith at a time like this? Just when things were starting to look up for Tanieka, the only thing that made her confident was snatched from her. Growing up, she had major insecurities about her looks. She hated the gap in her front teeth, the Medicaid coke-bottle glasses, and her chocolate complexion. But what did make her feel like the most beautiful girl in the world was her long, wavy, thick hair. All the girls at school envied it and that was something that gave her confidence to smile every day.
Often times we look at another woman’s success and fantasize about what it would be like to walk in her Red Bottoms. But the now cancer-free RN, entrepreneur, wife, and mother of four says you don’t get to experience success until God delivers you from a mess.
MadameNoire (MN): Tanieka, how did you transition from not believing in God to believing in God?
Tanieka Randall (TR): For a long, long time I just had struggles with God being real because it didn’t make sense to me. So for many years, I felt like that, even though my dad was a pastor. I didn’t even pay attention to what he was saying when I went to church, which was rare. But I actually wanted to believe God was real. I didn’t have any hate toward Him like some people do. I was still praying and saying “if you really are up there, help me to believe.” In the summer of 2010 I had a dream that a huge storm was coming. Everything was pretty outside and suddenly this storm was actually the end of the world. Everyone was running for their lives. I remember running up these stairs that led all the way to the sky. I stumbled and I fell really hard! This hand reached out to me and I grabbed it… I don’t remember anything else except waking up trembling and crying. It just so happened to be a Sunday and I had enough time to get ready for my dad’s service. I grabbed my phone and told my sister that I was coming to church; I’m going to surprise dad. In January 2011, I got baptized and haven’t looked back. I didn’t miss a Sunday in church until I was hospitalized in April 2011 with cancer.
MN: How did you find out you had cancer?
TR: I was finally almost done with nursing school, about two weeks away from graduation. My final exam was the only thing I had to complete, so I was studying for that and still doing clinicals at the hospital. I realized I was getting really, really weak and had shortness of breath. I remember going to the movies with my friend and running to the top of the stairs because that’s where I like to sit, but this time I couldn’t breathe and my heart was racing. I immediately went to visit a doctor with my laundry list of issues–a dozen different things. He just listened to my story and told me I was young and stressed out. According to him, nothing was wrong with me. I didn’t feel right about what he said, but hey, he was the doctor. I was still in clinicals and feeling bad. I told my instructor who was a nurse practitioner and he actually did the lab work. Two hours later he called me to come to the emergency room because results showed I was severely anemic. I immediately broke down and cried. When I got to ER they did a bone marrow biopsy, I was worried because I know that isn’t needed to do blood work. I didn’t tell my family because I didn’t want to alarm them right away. Unfortunately, the results came back that I had Leukemia. And from there my life changed forever.
MN: What did this entire experience teach you?
TR: Number one, we all are way more capable than we give ourselves credit for. I had a lot of self-esteem issues in my teens and 20s. If this would have happened to me beforeGod came into my life, I would not have made it. As an oncology nurse, I know for a fact that having a positive outcome is vital to a patient’s outcome. It’s a scientific fact that negative thinking creates stress and stress affects the body. Having a spiritual connection is a huge help in healing. The second thing I’ve learned is that when things come against us, we may go into depression and we get mad at God about it, but these things are not always to hurt us, but so we can be stronger help others. If someone told me to write down what I would be doing at this time in my life, speaking internationally, talking to women about self-esteem and cancer issues, and even researching essential oils and providing products for women who have general hair loss — If I had not lost all my hair and had to look like Mr. Clean, I would not be in the position to be where I am today.
MN: How did this experience help you embrace your outer beauty?
TR: It now sounds crazy to me when I say this but the only thing I thought I had going for me was the hair on my head! I took the clippers and I finished what cancer started… I remember looking in the mirror and breaking down. I just let it all out. I used to wear wigs and paint on eyebrows because all my hair was gone. It took a lot of standing in the mirror and embracing what I saw, but one day I looked in that mirror and said “You have a nice shaped head!” In that moment I truly saw the beauty I thought I didn’t have. Thanks to God giving me the vision to make my own products, my hair is longer than ever now.