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Without question, when going through a serious illness, you learn about what faith truly is, the 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 strength and confidence I never knew I had, which led me to love myself all over again. I had a new beginning, all on my own.

After going through so much in my life, things were going pretty well, 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 have I done so wrong to have this placed upon me?” And you begin asking, “why me?” Yet through my tragedies, and all I had to endure, the painful experience became a beautiful awakening, in which I received all the strength and encouragement I needed. Through it all, not only did I find the true meaning of life, I found the true meaning of beauty, as 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 my physical body would be drastically and negatively altered. But now, when I see the “imperfections” I now have to live with, instead of feeling sorry for myself, I embrace each one. I’m still among the living. Who am I to complain.

While we’re dealing with an illness – or negative feelings about our lives, bodies, or physical appearance – we need to be our own cheering section. For example, during all my mishaps, I continued my beauty regimen through it all. I realized that even while going through such a dark time in my life, I still had a life to live and would live it to the fullest.

When I think about the individuals who are no longer among us, due to such a horrific disease, I’m truly grateful. I no longer take my life for granted. It’s too precious. When I think of the “gift of life” given to me twice over, I knew I didn’t have a moment to waste. I would never say having or going through cancer is a gift. Surviving, however, receiving a second and third chance at 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 that my small mishaps are just that, and I can go on and look and feel just as beautiful, inside and out.

Each new day I’m allowed to open my eyes, the days are brighter because I’m able to see and appreciate life that much more. I will say, during the many times I have to view the scars, attached to the many areas of my body, I’m constantly reminded I had cancer, and at times, it bothers me. I’m only human. However, within a moment or two, I’m able to look past my scars, because those areas can be covered up, and since I now know true beauty is within. When you feel beautiful on the inside, it shows so clearly on the outside.

Just because I had cancer, doesn’t mean cancer had me. As women, we should never allow anything or any circumstance to steal our joy and self-esteem. I know with cancer, many times you will be too weak to even think about how you look because you’re not always feeling your best. Believe me, I know. Yet sometimes you have to try and fight past it, to keep living. Through any tragedy, we are and always will be beautiful and unique! Women, we all know that our bodies take lickings, yet keep on ticking.

Looking back, I must say, I thought right away that my cancer diagnosis was truly a death sentence. I wasn’t sure if I would make it. But now, after surviving cancer twice, I have a new beginning, new hope, do and see more, and have a whole new perspective on life. I share my story with others, hoping to make a positive impact, encouraging someone who is ill or otherwise. I’m 63 years of age, cherishing each day, each moment, and through it all, I feel I’m still at my best, confident, and as well, so grateful. I’m starting over, doing things I should have done before cancer.

One day during my many surgeries, during my breast cancer period, I experienced something so real, so peaceful – something like a miracle – I had to write it down. I turned the experience into a poem, which I called, “Peace.” I took the poem, along with many others I had written and created a book, which I was blessed enough to have published. Writing became and remains a form of therapy for me. My poems are from the heart, as real as any could be. I later had another inspirational children book published, and my third is on the way. I’m not saying I’m in the running for making the best-sellers list. I’m far from that. I’m just a regular everyday woman, who have overcome many obstacles, which all led me to write. I would have never become a writer, producing inspirational stories, if I hadn’t gone through all that I have. I never anticipated becoming a writer. I just became one. My newly published book, which should be out soon is titled Cancer, Yet Cancer Again, but I Will Not Die, Until I’m Dead because you shouldn’t stop living, just because you have cancer.

I’m a true example that you can survive cancer, not once, but twice. I’m not saying all will be easy. I’m not saying all will survive. What I am saying is to have faith, to fight with all you have, then hold on. I truly believe if and when you survive a horrific tragedy or a horrible disease, such as cancer, it’s for a reason. You have a purpose, and through that purpose, faith, compassion, strength, and true beauty is born.

 

This feature was submitted by Karen Rice

 

Born in Houston, Texas, Karen Rice was the seventh child in a large family of a Baptist minister. Even with so many around, she always found a way to sneak a little time for herself in a hide-away space to dream. While in high school, she planned on becoming a model/actress, and continued her pursuit, while working other jobs as a single parent. Later in life, she had a head-on-collision with not only breast cancer but colon cancer, an experience which changed her entire outlook on life. However, the struggle became “an awakening,” where she received the strength and encouragement to share her thoughts with others.

Purchase her book, True Simple Poems of Life, Faith and Survival, on Amazon and for any inquiry, feel free to email her at kmimsrice@gmail.com