Stories of hope

Anna Presser


Without question, when going through a serious illness, you learn to know what true beauty really is, as well as true love. You find out who's there at this most critical time of your life.

I've experienced many trials and tribulations in my life. One particular trial was raising 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 kept it moving.

Life was rough and at times, I didn't think I would make it, but because of the unconditional love of my child, I did. After seeing the joy and smiles she brought to my life each and every day, I knew I had a purpose. Through our lives together, I gained strength and confidence in myself. My self-esteem came back full force and I loved myself all over again.

But later in life, things turned around in a way like no other. I had a head-on collision with not only breast cancer, but colon cancer as well, and my entire outlook on life changed. I thought I had it rough years before, but going through cancer was another set of challenges. There's nothing like it. I wondered what in life I had done so wrong to have this placed upon me. Why was I given this? Yet through my tragedies and all that I had to endure, it all became an awakening for me. I received all the strength and encouragement I needed through the life I had with my daughter, and now my grandchildren.

Their love was the greatest reason to fight cancer and live. Through it all, I found what true beauty really is. Through all the chemo, the radiation and the pain I endured, I still felt beautiful. I would look in mirror even more during this time, because I thought that it would change me drastically. As I saw the imperfections I now have, I felt that I gained more beauty, because this time the beauty was authentic. Through all my mishaps, I'm still beautiful and it's real.

I've come to realize that even going through such a dark time in my life, I have a life that has 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. I will not take life for granted.

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 and an example to show that my small mishaps are just that. I can go on and still look and feel beautiful. Each passing day got brighter, because I was able to see it.

Yes, at times I would look at the areas of my body where surgery was performed and the transformation would bother me. But I looked past it, because those areas could be covered up. True beauty is within and when you feel beautiful, it shows clearly on the outside. I feel within my heart that I survived cancer both times to share my life with my children, while sharing my story with others.

In the beginning I thought that my cancer diagnosis was a death sentence. But I later found out that it was truly an awakening. I also realized that I was about to face a new beginning with a whole new perspective on life. I'm still among the living, and through it all I'm still beautiful, so who am I to complain?

I truly believe 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, true beauty is born.

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