Every October it’s heartening to see our timelines, shops and everywhere else you care to look, turn pink, in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness. Not far from our thoughts is the devastation and heartache that the illness causes, as let’s face it, we all know someone who has been affected. But in the spirit of being positive, we are inspired by the strength and beauty of 62-year old Karen Rice, a two-time cancer survivor, who wouldn’t be beaten by the illness and shares her story of how she found faith, true beauty and confidence through her journey of dealing with and beating cancer. Read her story, in her words…
“Without question, when going through a serious illness, you learn to know what faith truly is, along with finding the true meaning of beauty and how you really feel about yourself. I know this all too well, because I’ve experienced many trials and tribulations in my life. Through it all, I gained my strength and more confidence in myself. My self-esteem came back with full force and I was loving myself all over again. I had a new beginning, all on my own.
After going through so much in my life, things were looking up until it happened. I had a head-on collision with not only breast cancer, but colon cancer as well, and it changed my entire outlook on life. I thought I had it rough years before but going through cancer was the rest of the iceberg. There’s nothing like it. You wonder, what in life had you done so wrong to have this placed upon you. Why me, you say! Yet through my tragedies and all that I had to endure, it all became an awakening for me, in which I received all the strength and encouragement I needed to conquer. Through it all, not only did I find the true meaning of life, I found what true beauty really is. Through all the chemo, radiation, the pain I endured, I still felt beautiful. I found myself looking in the mirror even more during this time, because I thought that what I had gone through would change me drastically, but as I saw the imperfections I now have to live with, over time it got better, and instead of feeling sorry for myself, I embrace it all, I’m still among the living, who am I to complain?
Whether we’re dealing with an illness or any other negative feelings about ourselves, our lives or our bodies, we need to be our own cheering section. Through all my mishaps, I still feel beautiful and it’s real, I feel that I totally interrupted my aging process, I didn’t allow it to stop me from keeping up my beauty regiment nor my appearance. Yes, there’s a lot in this world to enhance our beauty, but we also need to feel beautiful and proud of who we are without the enhancements. I’ve come to realize that even going through such a dark time in my life, I still have a life to be lived, and I’m going to live it to the fullest. When I think about the individuals that are no longer among us due to such a horrific disease, I’m truly grateful, and my life will not be taken for granted. When I think of the “gift of life” that was given to me twice over, I knew that I would develop and gain strength through all my experiences. I would never say having or going through cancer was a gift, surviving it, receiving a second and third chance on life, is the gift. Yet, through it all, I’m still me, I didn’t allow the disease to take away who I am, or what I stand for. I’m a survivor, as well as an example to show that my small mishaps are just that, and I can go on and still look and feel beautiful, inside and out, and it shines brighter. Each passing day I’m allowed to open my eyes, the days are brighter, because I’m able to see and appreciate it that much more.
“Just because I had cancer, doesn’t mean the cancer had me. We as women should never allow anything, or any circumstance to steal our joy, nor our self-esteem.”
Still today, I would look at the areas of my body where surgeries were performed, and how different it is, and it still bothers me a little, I’m human, but within a moment I would look past it, because those areas could be covered up. True beauty is within and when you feel beautiful on the inside, it shows so clearly on the outside. I’m told all the time, I don’t look my age, and I believe it’s because I try to do all that I can, interrupting it. Just because I had cancer, doesn’t mean the cancer had me. We as women should never allow anything, or any circumstance to steal our joy, nor our self-esteem. Through any tragedy, we are and always will be beautiful and unique! Our bodies take a licking yet keep on ticking.
When I look back now, I must say, from the beginning I thought right away that my cancer diagnosis was truly a death sentence. But I found out later that it was truly an awakening. I also realized that I was about to face a new beginning, new hope, do and see more with a whole new prospective on life.
I share my story with others hoping to make a positive impact on someone who is ill or otherwise, where they can proceed life in a whole new way. I’m 62 years of age now, looking forward to a better life, one I’m cherishing each day, yet through it all, I feel that I’m still at my best, very confident, as well as grateful. I truly believe when you survive a horrific tragedy or a horrible disease such as cancer, it is for a reason. You have a purpose, and through that purpose, faith, compassion, strength, and true beauty is born.”
Never forget the importance of checking your breasts regularly.