Discovering Faith, True Beauty, and Love

Without questioning, when going through a serious illness like cancer, you learn to know what real love, real faith, and true beauty really is. You find out who's there at this most critical time of your life, as well as how you really feel about yourself. I know this all too well, because I've experienced many trials and tribulations in my life.

One trial was having to raise my child alone after a broken marriage. For a while, I felt as if I did something wrong and that my life was over, because when that door closed, I couldn't see far enough to see another one opening. I felt as if the world I knew was ending. But thanks to my child, I found the strength to pick myself up and keep moving. Life was rough, and at times, I didn't think we would make it, but because of the unconditional love of my child, and the strength and fight I developed going through so much, I made it. I could have had the worst day, but the joy and smiles on my child's face made things seem that not bad anymore, and I knew I had a purpose to go on.

Then my life took a negative turn when I had a head-on collision not only with breast cancer, but colon cancer as well. My cancers changed my outlook on life. I thought I had it rough years before, but going through cancer was so much worse. There's nothing like it. I wondered what in life had I done so wrong to have this placed upon me. Why was I given this?

Yet through all that I had to endure, cancer became an awakening for me. I received strength and encouragement from and through the life I had with my daughter, and, now, my grandchildren. Their love gave me the greatest purpose to fight cancer and live.

Through it all, not only did I find what life truly means, but I found what true beauty really is. Through all the chemo, radiation, and 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.

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. Yes, there's a lot of things out in the 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 all those who are no longer with us due to cancer, I am truly grateful.

I will not take my life for granted.

Through it all, I'm still me, and I didn't allow the disease to take away who I am, or what I stand for.

I'm a survivor and an example. I can go on and still look and feel beautiful, inside and out. 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. I feel in my heart that I survived cancer both times to share my life and my story to make a positive impact on someone who is ill, so that they can live life in a whole new way and still feel beautiful along the way.

When I look back now, I must say, from the beginning I thought 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, with new hope, and I would do and see more with a whole new prospective on life.

Karen Rice
Two-time Cancer Survivor

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