Last year didn’t go quite as planned for Beth Bagwell Pendergrass, but she’s determined to keep her chin up no matter what life throws at her.
In 2018, the 38-year-old executive changed jobs and relocated thousands of miles to New Mexico. Things seemed to be going great until May, when Beth was shocked to learn that she had breast cancer. Devastated but resolute, she searched her heart for ways to stay positive during the grueling months of treatment that lay before her.
“Through research, I had learned that a number of individuals impacted by cancer recommended keeping a journal,” she said. “I knew I didn’t want to keep just any journal. I wanted a clever way to document my journey — to take a challenging experience and turn it into something positive, and this was it.”
Humor has always been an important touchstone in her life, so she decided to go all out and create a brand new Instagram account to document her journey from newly-diagnosed cancer patient to former patient in remission. Channeling her creativity, Beth started dressing up in pop culture-themed costumes intended to make others laugh while also offering words of encouragement and wisdom.
For her first costume Beth chose Maria from “The Sound of Music,” captioning it, “I believe there is so much truth in the statement, ‘Laughter is the best medicine.’ So, I have decided to document my cancer journey through picture reenactments. I will beat this thing, and I will keep the laughter.”
The laughter definitely didn’t stop there! Even though Beth was dragging herself through chemotherapy appointments she never once lost her smile, keeping her friends and fans updated with hilarious new costumes.
Each costume is paired with an appropriate quotation from the famous person or character along with Beth’s own observations about her ongoing treatment.
Week 12: “When there are clouds in the sky, you’ll get by…” Charlie Chaplin
Many don’t know this, but Charlie Chaplin composed one of my favorite songs, ‘Smile.’ This week’s message is captured in the lyrics of that iconic song– ‘You’ll find that life is still worthwhile if you just smile.’ It is as simple as that. Just smile.’
Week 33: ‘I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring.’ David Bowie.
A year ago, I wrote on Facebook that 2017 was an adventure and I couldn’t wait to see what 2018 had in store for me. It’s true that 2017 was an adventure–selling a house, moving over 1,100 miles twice in one year, and starting two new jobs. But boy oh boy, 2018 did not disappoint. It goes to show you that you really don’t know what the future holds. You can have plans and goals, but sometimes life throws you a curve ball.
Week 40: ‘A wise girl knows her limits, a smart girl knows that she has none.’ Marilyn Monroe
I like to think that I have no limits—that I have unlimited energy, that nothing can touch me, that I can hold my emotions in and that I have no fear. But, weeks like this week remind me that I have my limits.
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….
Beth says that her photo project helps her stay focused on the positive and give her an outlet to share her cancer journey with others. Having a way to work through the emotions that go with a cancer battle has been invaluable for her, and finding support online is another silver lining. Sharing kindness is cathartic and healing in its own right, after all.
So we are sharing a few more of our favorites:
Week 36: “You will have bad times, but they will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to.” -Robin Williams
Week 35: “Haven’t you heard? One is the new two.” Miss Piggy
Week 31: “The best way to spread Christmas Cheer, is singing loud for all to hear.” Buddy, Elf
Week 30: “Seeing isn’t believing. Believing is seeing.” The Santa Clause
Week 23: “Oh look, another glorious morning… makes me sick” Winifred Sanderson
Week 16: “Well we really dont have a plan B. We didn’t expect for the first plan to work. Sometimes you can overplan these things.” Dusty Bottoms
Week 8: “It’s a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy.” Lucille Ball
Get well soon, Beth! Thank you for making us laugh during your fight. Please share this story to encourage others to use humor to find their way through even the most difficult times of life.
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