A beauty queen hopeful diagnosed with an aggressive form of ovarian cancer is fighting for her life as she vies for the title of Miss Arizona USA.
Kristina Anderson, 25, said she decided to enter the state preliminary Miss USA Pageant after she was diagnosed with the rare blue cell cancer in July. She had competed in beauty pageants at county fairs in her home town of Atwood, Ill., in the past.
"I thought it would be a good distraction to focus on something else," Anderson said. "Especially when I'm having chemo for eight hours a day, I'm able to get on the internet and shop for dresses."
Anderson, who wears headscarves to cover her hair loss, spent hours finding just the right beaded ivory gown to cover the permanent port above her heart feeding her life-saving chemotherapy.
She is now preparing for her fourth round of chemotherapy, which she says leaves her feeling weak and exhausted.
"I have good days and bad days," said Anderson. "I try to stay positive and just be at peace with myself because it is challenging to know what's in front of me."
Anderson is also having trouble covering her medical expenses. Her insurance has not covered the first six months of her treatment, leaving Anderson and her family struggling with hefty doctors' bills.
Despite the hurdles ahead, Anderson says that remaining "positive is the most important thing."
"She has such a rare positive outlook on everything," said Britt Boyse, executive director of Miss Arizona USA. "She's fighting for her life, but no matter how poorly she feels, she's just happy, outwardly, and appreciative."
Anderson, who is also currently pursuing an MBA Grand Canyon University, says that she is just trying to live life as "normal as possible," although she hopes that by running for Miss Arizona USA, she can inspire other young people with debilitating illnesses to pursue their dreams.
"We all face challenges, but don't let it get you down," she said.