My purpose in life is to bring hope and to help people keep
Hi, this is Shkela Forrest. This is my story. This is my
As a little girl, we lived and raised our food on a farm. My
dad grew the vegetables and the fruit, everything, and we
raised animals. And that's where we started. As we moved to
town, as we called it, the city, the rules were: 18, you date,
get your ears pierced at 16, you go to college, get the normal
life. I was an average teenager, become a cheerleader, track
team…enjoying life. I end up pregnant at 15, and tell my
parents when I was in labor that I was pregnant.
At a young age I knew, when I had my son, what it was going to
take for the goals and dreams that I actually had in mind. I
was working three, four jobs. I decided to move out. That's
when I had my daughter.
When my daughter was born, the doctors announced at the
hospital that she had sickle cell anemia. We would be at the
hospital probably seven days every month. One of her
treatments at one point was blood transfusions. And I can
remember, I would leave the hospital with a daughter
screaming, yelling, tubes running everywhere, doctors and
nurses saying, "We're losing her." I would look at her and
smile and say, "I will be back." Would leave to go to work,
change shirts to go to another job. And the point of that
story, this is not one time. This went on every day, from the
time she was born to the time I lost her at 18. My daughter
and my relationship was almost like glue. We would dress
alike. Her dream was always, "I'm going to be just like my
I answered my phone. My son was screaming and hollering, like
he was three. I turned the corner. Firefighters, police, and
yellow tape. My son lying in the grass, on his back, in fetal
position, holding his legs, screaming. I drove up really slow.
I put the car in park. I looked at him. He said, "Your
daughter has committed suicide." I did not know she had wrote
me a letter until a year later, and in my letter she said,
"Mom, I tried." She said, "It was a selfish move, Mama. I
appreciate everything you've ever taught me. I know this is
going to be hard for you." Now listen to this. Out of
everything I'm going to tell you, everything she said, "But I
knew my mama was strong enough to keep living when I wasn't."
This is how I explain it to people, how I felt when that
happened. Someone stood in front of me and they looked me in
my eyes. They took their hand, went in through my mouth and
pulled out everything inside of me. Threw it in the dirt,
wallowed it around, spit on it, stomped down on it, and then
looking me in my eyes said, "If you want to live, you pick it
up and put it back in your mouth and reassemble it the same
way I took it out."
So what I did, I put on a smile. I would teach people in the
world, not only my family, but other people whose souls have
been ripped out, how to reassemble your soul and at the same
time shine, and mean it, and be joyful.
When I'm speaking to my Humana members…and I work in
Specialty, and they feel there's no hope. It's, "No one cares.
No one hears me. No one calls me back." But they say Humana
does. They love Humana. They're speaking in general. They're
angry. They're mad. They're scared. When I answer the phone,
initially people laugh, and I ask them, "Tell me, what was it
about my greeting that made you laugh?" They say, "It's your
energy through this phone." And these are people with cancer,
calling Humana and speaking to you and it's just like going to
a party. Making others happy, it lights a fire under me.