Busta’s Person of the Week: She does more than survive; she thrives

Keva Brooks Napper

Busta’s Person of the Week: She does more than survive; she thrives
April 04
00:00 2019

By Busta Brown

She’s a 15-year-thriver of one of many invisible diseases that’s affecting the African-American community, especially women. “You can’t look at someone and tell they have a blood clot. You can’t look at someone and tell they’re having trouble breathing. You can’t look at someone and see joint pain, a migraine, and so many other things that’s not visible. So, it is an invisible disease.”

Keva Brooks Napper is talking about lupus, an autoimmune disease that happens when the immune system attacks its tissues, causing inflammation, swelling, pain, and damage. Lupus symptoms include fatigue, joint pain, fever, and a lupus rash. Keva has overcome three blood clots on the brain, two strokes, hair loss, and seizures. She began to notice signs in 2003. “I felt a breeze in the back of my head, so I touched my head and I could feel the bald spot. I looked in the mirror and I saw a raw, red spot in the back of my head,” said Napper. The red spot was a lupus rash, and then came the fevers, fatigue, and joint pain. She said her body felt like she was hit by an 18-wheeler running at full speed.

So she went to the doctor. “They did tests without me knowing. My A and A (antibodies) is one of the things they look for. The normal categories are zero to 80; mine came back 1,280.”

Keva not only doesn’t look like what she’s been through, she has a great sense of humor about it as well. She begins laughing while doing a great doctor impression, “So they were like, you definitely you have lupus, not a question,” and I was laughing as well.

You haven’t read the worst of Napper’s battle with lupus. And what’s inspiring. She doesn’t believe in pity parties. She’s a great example of not feeling sorry for yourself. Her faith is unwavering. I sat there in awe of her strength and ability to press on. Her big, beautiful, bright and warm smile filled the entire room. There was no space for negativity or doubt. The vibe was exactly how the church is supposed to make us feel. She kept that unwavering faith even after a grand mal seizure in 2004 during church service. “My family kept watching me, they were asking if I was okay. My mom noticed something was wrong, but I kept saying I was fine. I do remember I started stretching out and begin sliding down in my seat. My brother was the first to jump up and come attend to me, and then my entire family came. Dr. Terrance Johns sings in our choir, so he was able to help me until EMS got there. I was in and out of consciousness and throughout that day I had four more grand mal seizures.”

What she said next will blow your mind! I sat there with my eyes and mouth wide open, in shock. During her stay in the hospital, Keva experienced something we only see in movies or read in a book. “I had two out-of-body experiences,” said Napper. Then she described what she saw: “I literally saw myself before I had the seizures. And I saw a death angel. He had stringy and thick dark hair, strong features, and his eyes were big but empty and dark. His skin tone was dull, dry and a gray color, the color of concrete, like a dead color. No life type of thing. I didn’t see his full body, just the face down to the neck. I had another seizure and this one was so strong my family had to hold me down to keep me from falling out of the hospital bed. The doctor had to put me in a medically induced coma.”

After coming out of the coma, the doctor told her she had two blood clots on her brain. Napper’s blood pressure and cholesterol was fine. The doctors didn’t know what caused the clots. She stayed in the hospital for two weeks so they could run more tests. “It ended up being Protein S Deficiency, which means I can’t have a lot of greens.” Again, her sense of humor kicked in, and the laughs started as well. She did another awesome impersonation, this time of a grandmother: “Growing up, mama and grandmama told us to put some greens on that plate.” The conversation could have gotten serious as she explained how she must monitor the amount of greens she eats, but a big smile remained on her face. It was a very humbling experience for me. Sunlight is also bad for lupus sufferers, yet she joked about that as well. “I travel, honey, and I’m trying to go to every island I can. I use wisdom and enjoy myself. I wear my wide brim and going to be cute on the island and my hat is going to coordinate with my outfit and put on my sunscreen and get my beach on.”

Keva is a motivational speaker, has two lupus awareness organizations, Beautiful Butterflies and Meek, a support group for others living with lupus. Her 9th annual 5K Lupus Walk/Run is on May 4, and she’s the author of two books, her autobiography, “A fight to flight,” and “Prayers Breaths,” which she co-wrote with her father, Bishop George Brooks and mother Lady Edna Brooks.

The rest of this next heartbreaking story is in her autobiography. As she’s speaking, her vibe continues to be positive and fun, although even the strongest person would be crying. “I was told not to get pregnant and I said we got this. Then in December 2004, I was doing Black Nativity with the Black Repertory Company in Winston, and low and behold, I was pregnant.”

Here’s where the story becomes heartbreaking, yet Keva’s spirit continued her awesomeness. The smile was big and bright. “It’s my first time being pregnant. I went to the doctor and he was rude. He said, ‘This is what it’s going to be. You probably won’t carry full term, your baby probably will die, or you could die or ya’ll both could die. You just need to terminate.’” As I’m nearly in tears, Keva’s response was, “Thinking back at the way he talked to me and how rude he was, I should have closed-lined him,” and she demonstrated the move, and immediately I cheered up. Keva went to God in prayer. “I told God I don’t have it in me to make that kind of decision to terminate my baby.” A week later she miscarried. “It was a blessing because I didn’t have to make that decision. I trusted and was good with God’s will.” Wow! I have interviewed everyone from Jay-Z, Beyonce, Luther, Magic Johnson, to Stevie Wonder and many others. I don’t remember anyone having the impact she did. Keva Brooks Napper turned her testimony into a triumph. She says she’s a 15-year lupus thiver. “To survive is to live, but to thrive is to excel. I don’t want to be mediocre in anything that I want to do. I want to excel in everything I do, so we are thrivers. A day is never wasted as long as a memory is created. I enjoy creating memories with those I love.”

To view the rest of my interview, go to our YouTube page at Winstonsalem Chronicle. To contact and learn more about Keva Brooks Napper, go to Follow her on twitter @keva_diva Facebook – Keva B. Napper Instagram- @keva_diva1.

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