23 years ago on the day I heard the news, it was a
cool brisk day in October and I sat in the doctor’s office waiting
for the results of my HIV test. I’m sure he said more, yet the
only words I heard the doctor say were “Cynthia, you are HIV
positive”. Like frozen tundra I was stiff and immovable. My life,
my hopes and dreams, my career, shattered!
Born to the late Jesse and Ella B. Cotton, Ms. Cheatham reflects on a wonderful childhood where gardening was a way of family life and playing jacks was a favorite for her and her siblings. Her basketball skills landed her scholarships to play the sport four more years after high school.
She holds an AA elementary education degree from Mississippi County Community College in Blytheville, AR and a B.S. early childhood degree from Arkansas State University in Jonesboro, AR. Ms. Cheatham is currently teaching preschool in Memphis, Tennessee where she resides.
Living a life with HIV for 23 years didn’t totally stop her. She is widowed and has one teenage daughter, Raven. Having survived Ms. Cheatham conducts workshops to the married, single, teens, and those indirectly and directly affected by HIV/Aids. She’s also had the opportunity to speak to students in middle and high school and participants at the Benjamin L. Hooks Job Corps Center. “I soon realized that I can choose to let HIV define me, confine me, refine me, outshine me, or I can choose to move forward and leave it behind me”.
Ms. Cheatham has actively served over 21 years in her ministry at Holy Temple Cathedral of Deliverance under the leadership of Bishop Craig Baymon. In her spare time she enjoys fishing, making floral arrangements and spending time with her daughter.
Realizing that she is a survivor she presses and moves forward to help those that are dying and afraid to share their story. She beats the odds and she is thankful to God that He allowed her to live and make a difference in the lives that she has met along her journey. She decided to put her pain on paper so that she can pursue her passion and help people! HIV? For her it’s only the beginning....