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Just six short years ago on March 28, 2013, I was diagnosed with potentially fatal Stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma. My journey to survive my battle with cancer was very trying to say the least, but after overcoming my obstacles, I became passionate about inspiring people to have the desire to survive any challenge they may face in their lives. My fight to survive lymphoma had its highs and lows. However, I didn’t give up even when my battle seemed like it would never grow any easier. Through my unwavering faith and trust in God, as well as exuding a positive attitude, I knew I could get through it all.

These past six years have been amazing, but I often also battle with beauty issues and insecurities that stem from my fight against cancer. No one would have ever guessed by looking at me that I battle with insecurities. However, facial pigmentation, discoloration, and some of the scars left behind from cancer are just a few battles I face on a daily basis after the toughest fight of my life against cancer. My road to recovery was terrifying because I didn’t know what each day would bring. I endured many chemotherapy treatments, several medications, surgeries, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), blood clots, anxiety, and depression to name some of the many obstacles I endured through during my journey to survival, some of which I continue to face today. After 6+ months of happy and worry days, 12 rounds of chemotherapy, and the thought of my family losing me to cancer, I relied heavily on meditation and prayer to get me through my toughest moments and to keep me on a positive track to feel amazing, so I could remain an amazing inspiration for other fighters.

Still, sometimes I feel unpretty, because of my dark circles and hyperpigmentation that stemmed from cancer, which weighs heavy on my self-esteem. I would use the word “ugly,” to describe how I feel sometimes, but I know the word is too powerful (and a lie at its core) to describe how I actually feel. So I use makeup every day to cover my blemishes to make my unpretty feeling go away. I may look like I have it all together, but I am still a work in progress each day. Cancer can often lead patients and survivors to depression and for many women like me, it can also lead to appearance issues.

Today I am pursuing my career as a curvy model because I have learned that life is too short not to enjoy every moment of what you love. I want to embrace my beautiful curves, as I continue to work on my self-esteem. I am also an advocate for cancer awareness, about uplifting and inspiring those affected in my community and the communities across the country, which I do so through my movement Dzire2Survive. Dzire2Survive is a cancer advocacy and support movement, providing hope for patients and families affected by cancer. I want to continue to be an inspiration, encouragement for the many men and women out there just like me. I know I am not alone, and I want others to know they too are not alone. I want other women and young girls on their journey to not only survive cancer but to “Feel Beautiful and Look Beautiful,” and for each and every one of them to know and believe that You’re Not Ugly, Cancer Is.

This feature was submitted by Erica Campbell

Erica is the Founder of “Dzire2Survive,” a cancer support and advocacy group that helps improve the quality of life of patients and their families touched by the lymphoma disease, by providing education, encouragement, and up to date information. Today, Erica continues her journey as an inspirational speaker and cancer advocate, as well as a runway and editorial model. She lives by the message, “Never give up on your fight and continue to survive with your beautiful smile…Dzire2Survive.”

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