Many of us do not realize our own strength until we are faced with an obstacle so great, so seemingly insurmountable, that we are forced to dig deep and reveal our superhuman might to the world.
Sheila Taylor, 45, understands this process all too well. This is why Family Dollar is recognizing this Lewisville, Texas native as the Show Off Your Selfie winner, a contest aimed at finding and highlighting one of EBONY’s most inspirational readers.
Throughout her lifetime, Taylor has endured her share of painful challenges from losing her adoptive mother in a car accident at the tender age of six, and not once, but twice beating breast cancer.
Taylor, who served eight years in the United States Army Reserve, was given away for adoption at birth, only once again reconnecting with her biological mother at age 18 as a college student. In 2005 by the age of 34, the accomplished and hardworking woman was hit with a diagnosis of breast cancer after losing her mother-in-law that previous year to the same disease. After undergoing harrowing chemotherapy treatments and a double mastectomy, Taylor triumphed over the disease only to have it return eight years later. Luckily, she again beat the odds and not only survived, but thrived in the wake of what could have been a death sentence.
Even Taylor’s rewarding experience of motherhood was fraught with challenges. Her daughter was born prematurely, and mother and daughter spent 31 days in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) healing together. Clearly, her baby (now, 5 years old) inherited her indomitable spirit and will to survive.
Yet Taylor is not content in merely being a living, breathing testimony of strength. Instead, she has turned her powerful story into service for others. She spends her time serving at the Bridge Breast Network of Dallas helping to provide lifesaving medical care for uninsured or underinsured women diagnosed with breast cancer. She volunteers with Susan G. Komen where she is an honorary survivor and face of the 2014 race in Dallas. She has even started her very own organization, Sock It To Cancer.
When Taylor entered our Show Off Your Selfie contest by submitting a selfie and sharing the obstacles she has faced, her application and inspirational story practically leapt off of the screen. Family Dollar wanted our winner to not only embody the definition of fabulous on the outside, but someone who has also made an impact in their community. After reviewing more than 1,200 amazing entries, it is with pride that we bestow upon Taylor the grand prize.
"Winning this honor is validation that you can go through some very rough times and come through them beautifully. You can still smile and keep a positive attitude and show your inner and outer beautiful ‘selfie,’” says Taylor of her win. “It would let others know that you don't have to be an airbrushed model with perfect teeth, perfect breasts, long hair and a perfect life to be considered beautiful.”
A true testament to heroic strength and genuine beauty in the face of adversity, Taylor’s journey is one that is both admirable and awe-inspiring.