By Federico Cornetto
A brave woman battling breast cancer soldiers on by cosplaying as pop culture legends like David Bowie and Marge Simpson.
For most people, fancy dress is usually reserved for special times of the year, but for Halloween lover, Beth Pendergrass of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, having fun by dressing up as some of her favourite characters from film, television and even music has acted as a quirky and positive exercise as she bravely battles through her cancer diagnosis.
Beth, 39, was living the simple life with politically named pooches, Churchill the Goldendoodle and Ronald Reagan the Labrador-Heeler Mix, when in May 2018 she was sadly diagnosed with HER2-positive Breast Cancer, Stage 2B.
In the build up to Beth’s first chemo treatment, she decided to cut her hair voluntarily in order to avoid the trauma of it slowly falling out. But from this sad necessity came the inspiration for Beth’s creative flourish.
Beth said: “After cutting my hair, a friend told me I looked like Fräulein Maria from Sound of Music.
“So as a joke, I took a picture of myself, placed it next to a picture of Maria and sent it to my friend.
“That’s when it hit me.
“My pictures keep me focused on the positive.
“They give me an outlet to share my experiences and even to work through the emotions that come with a cancer diagnosis.”
Like most, the chief communications, strategy and engagement officer was completely taken aback with the unfortunate diagnosis.
Beth said: “I never had any pain or any indication that anything was wrong.
“It was by total happenstance that I even found the lump.
“I was in my first chemo treatment within a month.
“I have since had surgery to remove the tumor and 13 lymph nodes and am going through additional chemo as a preventative measure as I am a high risk for recurrence.
“I will finish chemo this summer and will begin radiation following that.”
Beth found her newfound passion for cosplay has helped her a great deal through the challenging times.
That journey has now involved Beth dressing up as everyone from beloved Spaceman David Bowie, to trending teenager Eleven from Stranger Things, to even the most famous yellow-skinned, blue haired mother on the planet, Marge Simpson.
Each character has been cleverly and creatively recreated on Beth’s Instagram page, @instabeth505, to the point that Beth’s Harley Quinn effort could be mistaken for Margot Robbie herself.
Beth said: “The pictures and words I write are reminders to me. I will be able to look back on them and remember that I am a strong person— I am a survivor and a fighter.
PIC FROM Beth Pendergrass/ Caters News
“Through research, I had learnt that a number of individuals impacted by cancer recommended keeping a journal.
“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.”
Beth hopes that by standing up to cancer in such a brave and courageous way, she can act as an inspiration to others and even had some words for people going through tough times.
Beth said: “I would tell them to keep going.
“I would tell them find the good even in their toughest times and to learn and grow from challenges.
“I would tell them that attitude is everything and we are in charge of our response to hands we’ve been dealt.
“I would tell them it is okay to have bad days, but then pick yourself up and keep going.”