Wednesday, February 26, 2020 6:42 pm
By Nehru Odeh
She paints a picture of a deeply courageous woman. And she has everything to show for it. Recently, the Atlanta-based African American lost her cousins on two separate occasions to fatal injuries resulting from gun shots in the United States. Yet she has an overpowering smile that doles out hope. But underneath that smile are the pains, aches and heartbreaks she has experienced in life. However, not only did the woman expose her HIV status on Facebook, she has used the social media to reach out to millions of people across the globe to counsel, educate and motivate them.
Still, the most intriguing thing about this woman, who is not just beautiful, has the curves in the right places and is as sexy as sin, is that in 2016 she got a phone call which changed her life forever. However the call meant so much to her because not only was she heavily pregnant with her fourth child, but also because it came from a nurse..
The nurse wanted her to come to the hospital and get the results of the HIV test she had done. The defining moment came, however, when she got to the hospital and the nurse inured her she had tested positive to the dreaded disease. The then mother of three immediately saw her world crashing down like a pack of cards before her very eyes.
Shocking, you say. But wait for this. The most shocking thing about that revelation, which came like a deafening bomb blast, is that the Milwaukee- born American knew at that moment that it was her husband who had infected her with the disease. And that sent cold shivers down her spine.
“The nurse walked in and said Ms.Thomas, ‘I’m not going to beat around the bush. Your HIV test came back positive. In that moment my heart dropped in my stomach. I felt numb all over. Her words were final. There was no going back. I remember thinking, ‘I have to be anywhere but here. If only I could in that moment rewind the hands of time.’ I can recall feelings of sheer shock moving to pure rage and anger. I began screaming, ‘This is not real. I’m going to kill him.’ Immediately, a caseworker rushed by my side to comfort and calm me down as another nurse removed my children from the room. I could faintly hear the wails and scream of my children crying for mommy. I knew then that I must gather myself for their sake.”
This is the courageous story of Wanona Nunu Thomas, the woman who has turned her misfortune into fortune. Still, it hasn’t been easy for this woman of substance. In early 2017, she battled pneumonia. And when the due date drew closer, her viral load and CD4 count began to improve. Since then the pains and aches notwithstanding, she has decided to turn her life around, rather than succumb to what everybody had thought was a death sentence.
“On April 10, 2017, I delivered a beautiful healthy, HIV negative son. Shortly after being born, my baby developed acidic blood. He was losing a lot of essential minerals and electrolytes after completing his six week AZT medicine. As time moved on, my son began to get better and stronger. Watching him fight encouraged me to fight just as hard.
“Slowly but surely, I began to put my life back together. I had to release the poison that had built within the walls of my heart. Bitterness was eating me up inside. I had to release the new me. I knew I had to live in my truth. The truth of this is my life and I’m taking charge. I won’t allow this to overtake me,” she maintained.
Motivational? Sure. Thomas has turned her HIV status into a lifetime goal to educate and motivate people about how to turn havoc into victory. In a treatise entitled What HIV Means to Me she published on Facebook in 2017, not only did she exposed her HIV status, she says the dreaded initial means Havoc Into Victory. In August 2017, she founded Live In Your Truth, a non-profit organization in Milwaukee focused on empowering and inspiring individual in a life of recovery from diagnosis of life-changing conditions.
“I wanted to make sure I could help others, so my Live In Your Truth foundation was born. So here I am, focused on building my foundation that I can pass onto my children one day and they can proudly call it their own. I truly believe my children will greatly be impacted through having parents that are HIV positive. I want them to be proud of me. I want them to understand that they can be whatever they desire in life. I want my children to have a solid foundation to stand on and be able to extend the love they were raised on to others. It is my hope that they Live in their truth and help make life a little easier. So I’m taking over this thing called HIV, that may win the battle with my human flesh one day but with my love, spirit, legacy and others , we will win the war! I have turned my Havoc Into a Victory,” she averred.
A Certified Nurse Assistant, CAN, now a single mother, believes in a strong support system and the need to focus on emotional wellness and mental health as very vital for recovery and finding one’s purpose in life. She has found strength in sharing her story on several platforms. She became a member of Positive Women’s Network and a blogger for A Girl Like Me for The Well Project in September 2017. Since then, she has shared her journey on national and international platforms, at meetings, conferences and on social media, as a way to engage people in feeling more comfortable with embracing and accepting life.
Read Wanona’s article, What HIV Means to Me here