Finding Strength in Struggle

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Life brings with it many adversities, but it is through times of challenge that people often find something within that helps them become even stronger. Women struggle daily. Hormones seem to get out of control, setting off various emotions; work tasks just keep piling up, yet there are never enough minutes in the day to get everything accomplished; relationships are never as perfect as you want them to be; traffic becomes a seemingly never-ending sea of frustration; and countless other things pop up in life that don’t exactly cause smiles and joy.

But then there are also even bigger trials that are not so common. The man you thought was “the one” breaks your heart; you lose your job and find yourself unsure of where to go or what to do next; you lose someone very dear to you and are unsure of how to cope with the loss; you hear news you never thought would actually happen to you: you have cancer.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 220,097 women in the United States were diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 (the most recent year numbers), and 40,931 women lost their lives to the disease. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity, and women continue to battle through the difficulties after the diagnoses. Though the statistics might appear discouraging, many women continue to show strength beyond measure in their fights against breast cancer.

Pernie Fallon, a high school art teacher and breast cancer survivor, says that she was very upset when she found out she had cancer in April of 2013. She always lived a very healthy lifestyle, but she knew she wasn’t going to lose her battle with this disease. While her faith in God motivated her, she also had a determination that she would be victorious. “It was almost like a competition, and I was not going to be the loser,” Fallon says.

And while there are moments during the journey when she faced discouragement—whether it was the feeling of physical weakness or negative thoughts—Fallon knew that to overcome cancer, she would need to maintain a positive mindset. “I felt like keeping a good attitude was at least 98 percent of beating it,” she says.

Every woman’s story is different—not everyone is going to face cancer, but there will be different trials you have to take on when you least expect them. But it’s the fight within—that ultimate determination that you will not be defeated—that helps keep you going and keep your chin up when all you want to do is curl up in a ball and cry.

It’s inevitable that you will be in the midst of troubled times at some point in life. Some of those seasons will come in forms that end up seeming small in the grand scheme of things, while others will look like monsters that you won’t be able to beat. But you can. You just have to keep that belief and that hope alive! Never give up hope! Life is tough, but you are tougher.