Tionne 'T-Boz' Watkins to Dish on Her Incurable Disease, TLC Stardom and Left Eye's Death in New Memoir: 'There's a Lot That People Don't Understand'

A Sick Life will be released in September 2017

Photo: Rian Carmona

Many storms have come and gone – but Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins persevered and is finally opening up about her journey.

The TLC singer will release her memoir, A Sick Life, with Rodale in September 2017, PEOPLE can exclusively announce.

“I want to hopefully get stuff off my chest and inspire someone at the same time,” says Watkins, 46. “A lot of things have happened in my life that will come out in this book that a lot of people don’t know about, that I’ve never talked about. There are a lot of major life changes that I’m so, so, so blessed to have experienced.”

In addition to dishing on the superstardom and drama she shared with her fellow girl group members Rozonda “Chilli” Thomas and the late Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes, Watkins will also open up about becoming a mother – and her debilitating struggle with sickle cell anemia.

Since Lopes died in a 2002 car crash, TLC took a hiatus from recording. And in A Sick Life Watkins will address the void her passing left.

As Watkins – who welcomed daughter Chase in 2000 – prepares to release her memoir, she and Thomas are busier than ever with TLC. Last year they toured with New Kids on the Block, and they’ve been back in the studio with J. Cole, NE-YO and Lady Gaga working on their first album in 14 years, to be released later this year.

“My life has changed for the better in so many ways. I’m so happy right now, I can’t even tell you,” she says.

Here, the singer opens up about where she is in life now – and what fans can expect in her book.

Why were you ready to share your story now?
Back in ’97, I did a little teaser book – it was called Thoughts – and I told little stories about my life here and there, and the fans really took to it. Now years have passed, a lot has happened in my life, and I think I need another therapy session: That book was therapeutic. That’s where the songs “Unpretty” and “Dear Lie” came from: my poems. And we converted them into songs from that book.

Back then, I didn’t have the brain tumor, and a lot of things have happened in my life that will come out in this book that a lot of people don’t know about, that I’ve never talked about. I really feel like timing is everything, and I’m more mature, I’m wiser, and I have it together a lot more I think it’s the perfect time for me to talk, where I don’t feel like I’m going crazy or something.

What can fans expect in the book?
I [just] turned 46, so just knowing my journey, how the doctors said I wouldn’t live past 30 and then the next death rate they told me was 45: I exceeded both of those numbers. They told me I would never have kids; my daughter is 16 this year. They told me I would be disabled; I’ve traveled the world, and I’m still doing it. I’ve survived this crazy brain tumor. I’m living life right now. You’ll see how my life has changed and why it’s changed for the better.

Are you hesitant to share anything?
I’m an open book. I feel like the good and bad made me who I am. I’m one of those people. If I did it, Im’ma cop to it. Because the question for me is: Did I learn from it? Did I grow? Do I know not to be dumb and do it again? Ultimately, it made me the woman I am today, and I’m proud of the person my mom raised, you know what I mean. I’ve done some crazy things so for me to still be standing? I’m happy to tell my story.

What misconceptions are you hoping to clear up?
There’s a lot that people don’t understand about sickle cell anemia. I want to really clear it up and hopefully give everyone a better understanding of my disease and what I really went through.

I haven’t really talked about all the times I could have died, my ICU visits – there are a lot of things I never shared because throughout my career, if I had a bad day onstage, I just let [fans] think that I had a bad day, but I never really shared that I just got of the hospital bed or this or that. I don’t want them to pity me. So I’d just take the hit.

Is it hard looking back on the good old TLC days?
It’s bittersweet because Lisa isn’t here anymore, so with the good comes the bad. But it’s my story. At the end of the day, my story is one and the same because it’s hard for me to tell my sickle cell story without telling TLC because I was really a young girl who had a dream, who wanted to do something they told me I could never have. So my whole struggle my whole life has been trying to do this job without killing myself, which is one of the most difficult jobs on the planet. My doctor was like, “Of all the things you would pick, you wanted to be an artist?”

I have to do a lot of things your average artist doesn’t have to do just to stay survive in this industry. People have no idea what I do before I go onstage, just to make it through a tour. This is actually, the New Kids on the Block tour was the first tour I’ve ever made it through without ruining it (laughs) getting sick. So I even got gifts from people, like, “You made it!” I’ll take all the gifts, yes!

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