My purpose in life is to bring hope and to help people keep hope.
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
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 mom."
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
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.