By: Kymberly Amara
Sparks flew immediately when Kaye Jackson first met her husband, Tiran Jackson, she looked back at her friends and immediately told them that she had just met her husband. But, the road to marital bliss wasn’t always clear to see, as both Jackson and her husband had personal journeys that would later converge; placing them on the same path.
Finding love today can be a challenge whether you’re young or old, big or small, or rich or poor. As a mother, entrepreneur, and breast cancer survivor, Jackson was no stranger to overcoming and facing challenges head-on. Imagine seeking companionship with a few added challenges that have affected your health and physical capabilities. We had the opportunity to speak with the newlywed to discuss her health journey and finding love after beating breast cancer.
Before being diagnosed with breast cancer, she says that she was in a marriage that simply wasn’t working and felt that her diagnosis was a consequence, “I felt like I was being punished because my marriage didn’t work and I felt like maybe that was my sign that I didn’t do enough in my marriage to try to make it work. Although I had prayed and I had asked for signs to stay but–and I felt like, I left and then I get this diagnosis and now I’m by myself.” Despite not having physical and emotional support, she’s grateful that she was at least able to support herself financially because the cost of treatment was not cheap.
Having already been burdened with the stress and loss of her marriage, Jackson remained resilient and says that although she felt, “alone,” she didn’t feel that breast cancer was a death sentence. However, she did feel that her diagnosis would be a further burden on her relationships which caused her to withdraw from friends. After going through the emotionally draining experience of her breast cancer returning, eight cycles of chemotherapy, a bi-lateral mastectomy, and having to ensure that her affairs were in order for her son, who was 14 years old at the time, her outlook on dating or finding love wasn’t the best.
During this time, she says, “I was more afraid of giving up…because I withdrew from everybody.” Thus, she sought out counseling services. With the help of her counselor and a close friend, she began journaling the positive things that were happening to her and was finally able to let go of the notion that her diagnosis was in some way a punishment for her failed marriage. Additionally, to improve the support for women undergoing breast cancer treatment and for those who are newly diagnosed, she feels that it would be beneficial to establish a peer-support system that pairs survivors with patients for added support.
On finding love…
Two years after undergoing reconstructive surgery, Jackson says she felt that she was ready to get back on the dating scene. From getting set up by friends to swiping left, she jumped right in and even made a game of dating to make things more fun. “After those two years, I literally had a friend, we were joking around one day, and she was like, “I’m gonna set you up on Bumble”…so, I came up with rules…my rule was I would always pick the spot and it was certain bars that I knew in Tampa where I knew the bartenders but my thing was if I wasn’t interested I would pay.” Her game quickly turned into an experiment where she realized how much money men spend on women when dating. As fate would have it, Jackson did not end up meeting her husband on the Bumble scene but at a homecoming for Tennessee State University. Her account of their first encounter is quite comical and apparently quite different from her husband’s. She recalls being at a party at B.B. King’s when she says, “I’m standing there and yea it’s a pole right there and talking to my friends and this guy walks by and he grazes my booty and I looked and he goes, “are you good” and I was like yeah I’m good, he walks away and I hit my friend and I was like, girl my husband just touched my booty, I just met my husband…he says that he was trying to get used to his prosthetic. I didn’t know he had a prosthetic when I first met him and so, going between me and that pole he accidentally bumped into me, that’s his story.”
The next day at a game, she spots her husband to be in the crowd. A few of her friends identify him as Tiran Jackson, a recent widow who lost his wife a few years back. She was apprehensive and wanted to know if he was ready to meet someone new but her friends, who were all too eager to set her up to find love, cosigned and reassured her that he was ready. Having realized that they are two of the nicest people they know, her friends decided to let things happen organically. After exchanging numbers and spending more time together at the homecoming she knew this was something special. When asked specifically about how she knew Jackson was her husband, she says, “When he grazed my booty, I literally felt a spark and it’s crazy. I may have said it initially just joking, just from the initial [encounter] like oh my god he cute but at the tailgate when he wouldn’t let my hand go, it was just a different feeling.”
Shortly after the homecoming, she flew out to Atlanta and they began seeing more of each other and have been inseparable ever since. “We met in October 2019 and then we went to L.A. in December [and said I love you at the same time] and then February 29th, I moved to Atlanta…we agreed that we wanted to do this.” She says she chose to move because both her son and his father already resided there and her husband’s son, who is still in school, would experience as little change as possible. Of course, no relationship comes without its fair share of challenges and they both had reservations regarding how the other may perceive each other’s physical scars. She was worried about the scars that resulted from her breast cancer journey and her husband was worried about having a prosthetic. Neither party cared and looked beyond the physical. “With both of us it was the scars and I think when we got past that it was like okay. Then the challenges became how do we both prepare our children for us [being together].” With Jackson’s son losing his mother at 12 years old and her son not wanting to see his mother hurt again, the two took things in stride, sought the help of a counselor, and began building relationships with the kids in preparation for their inevitable union.
Another issue the couple encountered was navigating the grief and opinions of others who were not ready to see her husband move on. “People don’t understand. People will come to the house and they don’t understand like “I can’t believe you’re living in the house” and things like that and it’s like I’m doing this for my son. I am doing this for him because he needs to finish out high school…we’ve made changes in the house; however, his mother’s presence is still there for him to see. I never want to remove that. We talk about his mom because it’s healthy. He needs to hear about his mom and not have somebody come in and just take an eraser and erase her like she never existed. It’s not like they had this horrible marriage, they had a great marriage, they had good friends and a great support system. It’s taken people a while for their own grief.”
Fast forward and with a lot of love and support, they’ve been married for a little more than a month and couldn’t be happier. With a solid foundation, the two are focused on pursuing various ventures to raise awareness regarding love and relationships. Jackson has The Random Whine which she began focusing on during her breast cancer journey as it helped her to relax during that time. Her husband has Reborn Resilient where he does motivational speaking and coaching to help those get back on track after having a traumatic experience. She hopes to use her platform to spread more awareness and host events around Atlanta and other areas to give back to less fortunate women who are undergoing breast cancer treatment. The couple also runs the Maleka Jackson Scholarship Endowment Foundation that is centered around his late wife to give back to any student who wants to attend an HBCU. With love at the forefront, one thing is certain, what was once tragic and traumatic has transitioned into healing and happiness for the newlyweds. With a lot of love, laughter, and support, the future is bright and it’s nothing but up from here.