Hattiesburg Woman Uses Her Pain, Experience To Encourage Others

"It wasn't until I had wrapped up producing a show. We were all high fiving each other, or everyone else was so to speak, because we had a good newscast. And then I couldn't get up. I tried to get up from the seat. I couldn't move. I said Chinika, get up," Chinika Hughes Hood said.

At 25, Chinika Hughes Hood was well on her way to a successful career in television. The USM graduate had worked at two Jackson TV stations and was working as a producer in Houston when she was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, and later fibromyalgia.

"I had made it to a top television market at the number one station. It was just so heartbreaking to be diagnosed with two debilitating illnesses. The only thing they could tell me is that I would have to readjust my life. I was cool with that, but they were saying that I really could no longer be a journalist," she said.

That's where "they" were wrong. Chinika's now 30 years old and lives in Hattiesburg with her husband and 14-month-old daughter. While she's not working in televison, she is using her communication skills to launch a website that will share stories of survival and encouragement.

"It will be a place, I believe, a place of healing for thousands upon thousands of people. Some of the issues we plan to confront will be child abuse, domestic abuse, poverty, infidelity, suicide," Chinika said.

The website will also create awareness about rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia. She hopes this website will help people draw strength from those who have been down a similar road.

"I've always wanted to inspire other people. I don't believe in self-pity, I believe that we should be the best we can be no matter what circumstances may come your way," Chinika said.

The website will be officially launched Monday, July 30. If you'd like to share your story or would like more information about the site click here.