Discovering Faith, True Beauty, and Confidence During and After Cancer

Without questioning, 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 gain strength that I never knew I had, and much more confidence in myself, which led me to loving 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 had you did so wrong to have this placed upon you. You begin asking, Why me?

Yet through my tragedies and all that I had to endure, it all became an awakening for me, in which I received and gained all the strength and encouragement I needed to conquer. Through it all, not only did I find the true meaning of life, I found the true meaning of beauty. Through all the chemo, radiation, and the pain I endured, I still felt beautiful. I found myself looking in the mirror even more during this time, because I thought what I was dealing with would change me drastically—but as I viewed 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, and our bodies, we need to be our own cheering section. Through all my mishaps, I still feel beautiful, and it’s real. 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 who are no longer among us due to such a horrific disease, I’m truly grateful, and I will no longer take my life for granted; it’s too precious. When I think of the gift of life that was 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, but surviving it, receiving a second and third chance at life, is the gift. Yet through it all, 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 look and feel just as beautiful, inside and out—and it shines brighter.

Each new day that I’m allowed to open my eyes, the days are brighter, because I’m able to see and appreciate it that much more. I will say that the many times I have to view the scars that are attached to the many areas of my body, it’s still a constant reminder I had cancer—and at times, it bothers me. I’m human, after all. But within a moment or two, I look past it, because those areas can be covered up.

True beauty is within, and 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. We as women should never allow anything, or any circumstance, to steal our joy or self-esteem. And 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. But sometimes you have to try and fight past it, and 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.

When I look back now at it all, I must say, I thought right away that my cancer diagnosis was truly a death sentence, because you’re not sure if you’re going to make it. I truly learned not to blink twice on life anymore. My eyes are wide open to living life to the fullest. I also realized after surviving cancer twice that I was about to face a new beginning, new hope. I was going to 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’s ill or otherwise, so they can proceed through life in a whole new way. I’m 63 years of age now, and I’m cherishing each day, each moment—and through it all, I feel that I’m still at my best. I’m confident, as well as grateful. I’m starting over, doing things I should have done before cancer.

One day, during my breast cancer period, I experienced something so real, so peaceful, something of a miracle, that I had to write it down. I turned that experience into a poem and I called it “Peace.” I took that poem, along with many others I had written, and I placed them into book form, and I was blessed enough to have that book of poems published. Writing had become therapy for me.

I’m not saying I’m in the running to be a bestselling author—I’m far from that. I’m just a regular everyday woman who has overcome many obstacles, which took me to writing. I would have never become a writer, producing inspirational stories, if I hadn’t gone through all that I did.

I’m a true example that you can survive cancer, not once, but twice, providing you get to it in time. I’m not saying all will be easy, I’m not saying all will survive it. What I am saying is to have faith, fight with all you have, then hold on. I truly believe that when and if 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 are born.

Karen Rice

About the Author | Karen Rice

Karen grew up in a very large family in Houston, Texas. In high school, she had her life all planned out, but later in life, she had a head-on collision with not only breast cancer, but colon cancer as well, and it changed her entire outlook on life. It became an awakening, and now Karen shares her thoughts to inspire, encourage, and instill hope.

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