Motivating Stories from Local Women
Every woman has a story to tell, and no two stories are alike. Meet the women who have persevered through challenges and tribulations and come out the other side stronger than ever. These unique individuals have seen their fair share of adversity but continue to inspire those around them with the lessons they have learned and their love of life. Read on for a truly motivating story by a woman who experienced them firsthand.
Photography by Sarah Unger
Bea Lyons, North Chattanooga
Having a unique beginning in life as the second-born baby from a set of identical twin girls, I was the smaller, weaker twin who started life by spending weeks in a homemade incubator. My childhood years were pretty routine, yet blessed with the usual family activities, loving grandparents, schooling, and church. Those years quickly flew by with one major exception; between 3 and 10 years of age, I contracted ALL of the childhood diseases and survived, yet was left with severe hearing loss that has presented challenges throughout my life.
I’ve worn hearing aids since age 11, and I mastered good speech, language, and lipreading skills through speech therapy. By the time I entered ninth grade, I had fully accepted my hearing loss and even enjoyed wearing my hearing aids. Then the tables turned. A few of my classmates began teasing me, calling me ugly names, and ridiculing me. During those times, I changed. I developed a thick skin to protect myself from the hurt I felt, became less shy, learned that I was reasonably talented with academics, and finally became the thoughtful, confident, assertive, respectful woman I am today.
As I have matured, I have become a different woman who is loving, hardworking, community service-oriented, and yes, a staunch advocate for people living with hearing loss. I wanted to make a difference for others living with hearing loss just like me, and that I did!
I am a mother and grandmother, a career educator, a woman of strong faith, and a cancer survivor. Twelve years ago, I underwent surgery and chemotherapy treatments for ovarian cancer. Then, four years ago, I had surgery for breast cancer, recovered exceptionally well, and remain cancer-free today.
I’ve learned to remain calm, be positive, and make the very best of each day. I’ve learned to allow strong faith to carry me through difficult times, and I’ve learned that I can give back to others by sharing my individual gifts and talents through community service and volunteering.
As a woman living with deafness and a two-time cancer survivor, I feel truly blessed and fulfilled by a life of teaching, community service, and love of family. Life is good!