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
Sandra Brewer, North Chattanooga
I was blessed to grow up in a loving home surrounded by family and friends. I went to work at an early age and thought I found the fairytale when I met my children’s father. I relocated to Ft. Lauderdale. We had a peaceful marriage, a beautiful home, and two amazing daughters. UNTIL … my husband was transferred to Chattanooga, and I learned he was living another life. A painful divorce soon followed.
To say my world changed dramatically is an understatement. I was now a single mother with two young daughters in a new town trying to figure out life. One day my cousin said, “Sandra, you are a Stringer woman (my maiden name), and you are strong.” I knew she was right, and her words echoed in my head. There were a lot of strong women in my family, and I drew from their strength, my faith, my family, and a lot of great friends. I decided to return to school and complete my bachelor’s degree. I then volunteered at the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce, engaged in a lot of community service, and focused on my daughters.
After several years, I met Jim Brewer, and we blended a family of five children ages 8 to 18. It was definitely challenging, but we loved each other and built a great life together. Shortly after getting married, Jim was diagnosed with tongue cancer. A 14-year battle began, with trips to MD Anderson – surgeries, chemo, radiation, and partial jaw removal. In February of 2018, Jim lost his battle, and I was forced again to reinvent myself during a time of grief.
What I learned is you can’t escape grief – you must go through the stages of denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. A great counselor helps too.
Looking forward is part of my nature, and finding something to occupy my time in constructive ways helped. I received my yoga instructors license in 2019 and continue to draw strength from my faith, family, and friends. For the past eight years, I have been the VP of Membership & Investor Relations at the Chattanooga Chamber, and I have three adorable step-granddaughters and a grandson on the way. My children are pretty great too.
Life is not always easy, but I have learned it is important to count your blessings even during the most difficult times.