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Beth Bagwell Pendergrass  Living my best life.

Week 49: "Hope is like the sun. If you only believe it when you see it you'll never make it through the night." Princess Leia, Star Wars: The Last Jedi

Well, it's official. The cancer has returned. The good news is that it is a local recurrence and has not returned to my lymph nodes or spread to other parts of my body. We have an aggressive plan moving forward, and I am ready to fight. This is my rebellion against cancer and "rebellions are built on hope." I believe we should never lose sight of hope in the face of adversity. Despite our challenges, we should always hope for a better tomorrow. Each new day brings with it an opportunity to renew our hope and to keep going. I know that I am strong, but I hope I am stronger tomorrow. I know the power of positive thinking, and I hope that tomorrow brings more positive thoughts. I know the power of a smile, and I hope tomorrow brings a brighter smile. My hope keeps me going and gives me confidence that everything will be okay. That doesn't mean that I don't know what I am up against. I know the Rebel Alliance may not always win against the Empire, but they always come out on top because they are fighting to leave the galaxy a better place. Always hope for that--always hope, regardless of the outcome, to leave the world a better place. The force tied to hope is a powerful force. So today, I say to each of you, "May the force be with you." #breastcancer #susangkomen #StandUpToCancer #breastcancersurvivor #bethstrong #fucancer #hope #starwars #princessleia

Week 48: "They're baa-aaack" Carol Anne Freeling, Poltergeist II
Well, it's been a Poltergeist kind of week.  During the exam prior to my infusion on Tuesday, my oncologist felt a new mass that she wanted checked out. I went in for the ultrasound and mammogram on Wednesday and it was confirmed--two new masses at the site where the original tumor was removed. It's never good when a doctor begins a conversation with "I'm sorry" and a hug. But, I held it together. I wasn't going to cry in front of her. I smiled and thanked her. I smiled and thanked the sonographer as she walked me out. I smiled as I left the office and thanked the front office staff and told them to have a good evening. I almost made it to my Jeep before the tears came, but they did come, and I let them. Being strong doesn't mean you don't get to cry every once in awhile. Being strong means that you pick yourself up and keep going. Thursday morning, I woke up, got out of bed, put one foot in front of the other and kept going. Cheryl Strayed said, "Nobody will protect you from your suffering. You can't cry it away or eat it away or starve it away or walk it away or punch it away or even therapy it away. It's just there, and you have to survive it. You have to endure it. You have to live through it and love it and move on and be better for it and run as far as you can in the direction of your best and happiest dreams across the bridge that was built by your own desire to heal." I will continue to fight because my desire to heal and move in the direction of my best and happiest dreams is great. I will endure, and I will do it with a smile on my face. #breastcancer #susangkomen #StandUpToCancer #breastcancersurvivor #bethstrong #fucancer

Week 47: "I can't go back to yesterday - because I was a different person then." Lewis Carroll

Ok, I know. This is not my typical re-creation photo. The first photo is a year ago. I am pictured with my two brothers. I remember the day well. I decided at the last minute to travel to watch my niece play in a volleyball tournament. And that was the day--the day I found the lump. To be honest I knew. My gut told me it was cancer, and I knew my life would change. And, here we are a year later. Back with my brothers at a volleyball tournament. If you knew me a year ago, please, let me reintroduce myself. I am not the same person. It is amazing what has happened since that day. I've been on an unexpected journey. I definitely feel like I have grown and changed in so many ways. Dean Karnazes said, "Struggling and suffering are the essence of a life worth living. If you’re not pushing yourself beyond the comfort zone, if you’re not demanding more from yourself — expanding and learning as you go — you’re choosing a numb existence. You’re denying yourself an extraordinary trip." I've had an extraordinary trip over the last year, and I feel accomplished. I feel that I have given my all, been strong and achieved an incredible feat. I am not choosing a numb existence but instead making every effort to grow and learn. I've been through a lot and plan to continue my cancer journey with the same resolve. It has changed me but for the better. I can't go back to yesterday. #breastcancer #susangkomen #StandUpToCancer #breastcancersurvivor #bethstrong

Thank you @midland for the picture. Super nice crew. #classact #midland #baldisbeautiful

Week 46: "Reality is something you rise above." Liza Minnelli
In reality, most days I wake up tired, many days sore to the touch and bloated, some days emotional. In reality, I don't remember the last time I went to bed without pain. I don't remember the last time I slept through the night. In reality, challenges happen at work or in my personal life--plans don't always go as expected. These are things mainly out of my control. But here's the flip side. In reality, every day, I choose to be the best version of myself. Every day, I try to share a kind word or greet someone with a smile. Every day, I find something to be grateful for. Every day, I spend time with or talk to the people I love. Every day, something makes me laugh. Every day, I learn something new. Every day, I feel I am rising above the reality of being a cancer patient. I am choosing to push myself beyond my reality or those things I can't control and create a new reality--so in reality, at the end of the day, I can say I had a good day. #breastcancer #susangkomen #StandUpToCancer #breastcancersurvivor #bethstrong #lizaminnelli

Shout out to my incredible niece @elle.hillers and her "two bids for Nationals", rockstar volleyball team @psvba for supporting the cause. Some of the best lessons I learned in life came on a court or a field--learning to support each other, working as a team, leadership, dedication, dealing with disappointments, etc. Thank you to this team of athletes for honoring another extraordinary team of pink warriors that I am proud to stand with. #pinkout #cancersucks #cancerwarrior #breastcancer #cancersurvivor

I used to think to myself when I saw someone wearing a mask, "What creepy disease does he or she have?" Now I know it's not what they have, it's what everyone else has... but check out the guy in the back of my picture... he is thinking, "What creepy disease does this chick have?" 😂😂😂😂😂 #breastcancer #susangkomen #StandUpToCancer #breastcancersurvivor #bethstrong

Week 45: “You've always been crazy, this is just the first chance you've had to express yourself.” Louise Sawyer, Thelma and Louise

I’ve never had a problem being a little crazy and expressing myself in my own way. As a child, I made my siblings dress up and put on productions for anyone who would watch. I was certainly my own kind of crazy in high school and college and was lucky to have friends who participated in “crazy” with me. I haven’t changed at 39. I will still sing or dance in the hallways at work or shove a pillow in my pants and lip-sync to “Baby Got Back” for my nieces. You see, life is too short to be too serious. I prefer to laugh at myself, and if you’re laughing with me, that’s even better. When I lost my hair from chemo, a friend told me, “I get to be the pretty one now.” And, I loved it. I am not delicate. I am strong. Laugh with me. Joke with me about drawing on my eyebrows based on my mood or needing to fart from the ridiculous chemo bloating (I'm also not demure). “Crazy” and laughter keep me going and have kept me going at many different times in my life. My “crazy” re-creation photos are getting me through cancer treatments now. This is my outlet. These are my messages of strength and courage. Thank you for being a part of it. Thank you for being a part of my “crazy”. #breastcancer #susangkomen #StandUpToCancer #breastcancer

Week 44: “Live for each second without hesitation.” Elton John, I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues

This. “Living like lovers. Laughing like children.” Living for each second without hesitation. What does it mean to really live? For me, I believe it is doing those things and spending time with those people who bring you true happiness and peace. So, what is holding you back? Is it something you can change? If not, is it something you can change your response to? I can’t change that I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, but I can embrace it and use the experience to become a better person. I can live for each second without hesitation, because I know I will come out stronger in the end. It’s not easy, and there are hard days. But, I use every second of every day to my benefit. I live those seconds and learn from them and at the end of the day, I find my happiness. Don’t be afraid of your happiness. Don’t let life’s challenges get in your way. If you can change something you don’t like in your life, change it without hesitation. If you can’t change it, change your response to it. Do not allow experiences or people to get in the way of you living your life. “Cry in the night if it helps,” but find your happiness. Find peace. Live for each second without hesitation.  #breastcancer #susangkomen #StandUpToCancer #breastcancersurvivor #bethstrong #eltonjohn

Week 43: “I am in a dress, I have gel in my hair, I haven't slept all night, I'm starved, AND I'm armed! Don't MESS with me!” Gracie Hart, Miss Congeniality

Miss Congeniality has always been one of my favorite movies. I love the idea of tomboy turned beauty queen particularly as I have always been a jeans, hoodie and ball cap kind of girl. I like the idea of being able to transform into a knockout. It is hard not to get wrapped up into wanting to look like the models on the front covers of magazines. And, as I am far from being one of “those girls”, I was pretty worried about how cancer would take me backwards in the look department—losing my hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, the puffiness, paleness, etc. And, it happened. It all happened. And, it doesn’t matter. Cancer taught me that. Health and happiness is far more important than looking like a model on the cover of a magazine. Strength, courage and intelligence can be sexy. I can rock the bald and feel good about myself, because I have learned that beauty comes from moments in our lives when we conquer things we never thought we could. At the end of the day, I want people to remember me for the person I am--not the person I thought I wanted to look like. I would rather be Miss Congeniality. #breastcancer #susangkomen #StandUpToCancer #breastcancersurvivor #bethstrong

Week 42: “SUPERSTAR!” Mary Katherine Gallagher, Superstar

I don’t always give myself the credit I deserve. Whether in work, friendships or life in general, I always feel like I can do better. I think it is both a strength and a weakness. A strength, because I am always looking for ways to improve. A weakness, because I am never satisfied. I have struggled with this throughout my chemo treatments particularly on bad days—days when I don’t feel well. I slow down. I am less productive. I lose my positivity and drive. And even though we are all entitled to bad days, I feel ashamed, and I shouldn’t. Instead, I need to feel proud of myself for getting through the tough days. As they say, “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.” And, by God, I need to remember that I am tough. I am doing the best I can. I am kicking cancer’s ass, and I am a SUPERSTAR!  #breastcancer #susangkomen #StandUpToCancer #breastcancersurvivor #bethstrong

Week 41: "If you feel so bad about yourself there’s always things you can do to feel better." Marge, The Simpsons
We all have bad days. Days when we look in the mirror and don’t like what we see. Days when we don’t like our job. Days when we don’t feel well. Days when we feel like we’ve accomplished nothing. Days when we miss someone we love. Days when we don’t want to get out of bed. Days when we feel like we’ve been dealt an unfair hand. Just, those plain ol’ days when we feel bad about ourselves. I get it. It happens. Maybe we all need a little time to feel sorry for ourselves, but I’ve also learned that it doesn’t help. I’ve learned that while I can’t change my situation—the hand I’ve been dealt—I can do things to feel better about it. I can continue to share my story and hear other’s stories. I can remind myself that I am not alone and that others are fighting battles far more difficult that my own. Even better than that, I can go out of my way to do nice things for others—to smile, share a compliment or buy someone lunch. It’s simple and it works. Over and over again, it works. As the quote goes, “Kindness can make a bad day good, and a good day better.” #breastcancer #susangkomen #StandUpToCancer #breastcancersurvivor #bethstrong

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