In July 2013, Kristina Anderson received harrowing news. After a routine doctors visit she was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of ovarian cancer and began treatment immediately. What would've discouraged many didn't slow down this 27 year old beauty one bit. In fact, she garnered national attention by entering the Miss Arizona USA pageant, placing in the top 15 and was named the Spirit Award Winner. We recently caught up with Kristina:
KPS: First of all, how are you doing?
KA: I am finally at the energy level that I once was prior to the cancer. I have late side affects from the chemotherapy such as vision and circulation issues, but overall, I'm blessed and grateful to be alive.
KPS: You used your journey to Miss Arizona USA as a platform for cancer awareness and made national headlines. I’m sure during your preparation you received a lot of encouragement and well wishes from many places – was there one in particular that was especially meaningful to you?
KA: Ana Christina Rodriguez, 2011 Miss Texas USA, gave me a custom dress that Tony Bowls made for her. This dress is particularly special because it's a teal dress made for a fundraiser to raise awareness about ovarian cancer. Ana's mother had died of ovarian cancer.
KPS: You’ve competed in pageants before. Did your preparation change as compared to previous times competing?
KA: I haven't competed in any pageants since the last competition. However, I am competing for the first time in the Miss Arizona United States Organization. I would say for this pageant I have a clear focus and passion for continuing to raise awareness about ovarian cancer.
KPS: Your story gave strength and inspiration to a lot of people and had many rooting for you from all over – how did that make you feel?
KA: Having support from your family, friends and community provides you with the strength and courage to recover and defeat the disease. All the support I received gave me the much needed hope I needed to overcome all the obstacles, both mentally and physically, that come with being diagnosed with cancer.
KPS: There’s a special moment in the competition during your swimsuit walk when you take off the head scarf you’d been wearing – describe that feeling.
KA: I had no idea I was going to do that. I spoke with friends and family about it, but was unsure if it was appropriate. As I got up on stage, I felt empowered and in that moment knew that it was the right thing to do. I wanted to show strength, courage, bravery, and a sense of community by everyone cheering together although we were all competing. It was important that I relayed the right message and I think I did just that.
KPS: What message do you have for girls that are competing?
KA: Pageants are about learning more about yourself and developing and strengthening attributes that make you confident and content with your direction in life.
KPS: What’s next for Kristina Anderson?
KA: I recently received my MBA and am currently enrolled in an MSA program to be able to sit for the CPA exam in Arizona. I just founded a nonprofit called Save Her Life. The mission of Save Her Life is to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and to be a source for cancer patients and their families to understand all the support and resources available to them within their communities.
KPS: You have a new 501c3, can you tell us a little about it? How can people donate?
KA: We recently had our first fundraiser and have a donor that will match up to $5,000. Construction of SaveHerLife.org is in progress as we develop additional funding. Donations can be made at http://www.gofundme.com/SaveHerLifeInc
KPS: Any final thoughts?
KA: Thank you to Kandice Pelletier for reaching out to me and donating a swimsuit to help me feel even more special during the pageant! Having your support made a world of difference and provided me with the confidence to rock that stage in your beautiful swimsuit.