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I had just celebrated my 38th birthday when I got the diagnosis for my stage three breast cancer. Just like any of us would feel, fear became the most predominant emotion. I looked into my young children’s and husband’s eyes differently in the days, weeks, and months to follow. I knew this was the last thing I would ever want to face, especially at this stage in my life.

Among the intense feelings of fear and uncertainty, I also cried at the thought of my husband watching his wife’s physical beauty deteriorate. I hated the thought of how I would look without my beautiful red hair, eyebrows, and long eyelashes. I thought I was about to watch my self-image take a nosedive and never recover. Instead, I was met with a unique strength that started to make its way to the surface. It was a sense of power and inner beauty I believe we all carry, and mine just took a cancer diagnosis to strip away the layers that were hiding it.

RELATED: Cancer Taught Me Life is Short—And How To Live It

One particular morning, I caught my bald reflection in the bathroom mirror and for a split-second, I didn’t recognize myself. What also surprised me was the level of acceptance and self-love that showed up. I literally saw myself differently from the inside out and truly started to unravel the meaning of “beauty is more than skin deep.”

My hope is that all women find their own unique inner beauty and strength through the struggles life throws their way. Trust me, it’s in there.

When I look in the mirror
What do I see?
Certainly not, the woman I used to be.

She’s balding and pimply,
And putting on some chunk.
But my love for her,
Is different than I once would have thunk.

I laugh when I do her brows, now thin and uneven.
And delight in the new beauty she sees and believes in.
She’s stronger and wiser and growing a lot too.
Why should this shock me after all she’s been through?

RELATED: Cancer Is Weird

Though physical beauty is fading away,
I see a true queen emerging each day.
The journey’s just starting to pick up its pace,
And I see the effects present in her fair face.

So what do I see when I look in the mirror?
An internal beauty that’s becoming clearer.

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Kristin Steeves

Kristin Steeves is a wife and mother of two young children in the Ottawa Valley. She is a breast cancer survivor and has a passion for inspiring women to find their inner strengths.

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