Meet Amanda Ramirez. She’s a 22-year-old who’s been using her mad beauty skills to get herself through grueling rounds of chemo treatment for lymphoma — and has inspired thousands of Instagram followers along the way.
“I’ve always been a makeup enthusiast,” Ramirez, of Compton, Calif., tells Yahoo Beauty. “I began learning makeup on my own at the age of 19, and ever since then I fell in love with the art of beauty. I was definitely like this prior to the cancer, and it’s helped me immensely with dealing with my treatment. When you look beautiful you feel beautiful.”
Diagnosed with stage-3 Hodgkin’s lymphoma in August after fainting and temporarily losing her vision, Ramirez bravely began sharing her journey on Instagram, where her number of followers soon doubled to more than 25,200. Her posts range from close-ups of her flawlessly made-up face and beautiful bald head (often with a peek of her hospital gown or a chemo port in the pic) to shots of her striking poses with folks including her kind-faced mom, who is in assisted living…
…and her loyal chemo companion and BFF (and fellow slayer of beauty) Waylette Thomas.
On Monday, Ramirez posted a major highlight — a pic of herself sandwiched between her “two all-time favorite artists” Kehlani and SZA:
“I had tweeted Kehlani, and a friend of mine was persistently tweeting her to notice me, and she did. She then followed my Twitter and messaged me. She’s one my favorite artists and people, so I was extremely humbled when she told me she admired my strength and determination,” says Ramirez, who explained that Kehlani invited her backstage at her recent Santa Ana Observatory concert. “It was the best night of my life.”
Ramirez, who is halfway through her 12-cycle chemo regimen, gets admitted to the hospital for a few days each time. “All the nurses and doctors smile and tell me that I’m the strongest girl they’ve ever met,” she says. “‘How do you look this good in a hospital?’ they say. They’re all very supportive. They think I’m beautiful and I’m thankful.”
She has also used her Instagram page to fight back against size-ism, as she did with this brave post about embracing her body image:
“Self-confidence came from years of learning about myself and learning to love who I am,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “For years I was bullied and fat-shamed, but I took the initiative to say enough! I’m beautiful regardless of my size, and it does not define me, nor anyone else for that matter. It’s important to me, because loving yourself is important — it’s vital to your well-being.” When her treatments are over, she hopes to pursue a career in plus-size modeling and hopefully work with a cancer association and to “help build confidence and character in young plus-size girls.”
Before her diagnosis, this chemo warrior was working as a cashier at a food kiosk in a Los Angeles airport. She’s been unable to work since her diagnosis and has set up a GoFundMe page to help her along in the meantime. “There’s a constant feeling of worry that plagues my mind,” she wrote on the fundraising page. “I’m extremely positive, despite the way I physically feel; my mental state is very intact. There are days where I want to give up, but there are many people that look to me for comfort and assurance. I realize that it’s bigger than me; God has given me this to show the world that you can be fierce and strong while having a bit of vulnerability. I hope to inspire and help those who don’t feel they can go on with something that weighs on the heart so heavily.”
Her posts have brought out love and support from thousands, with fans calling her “so beautiful,” “so strong,” “gorgeous,” and “a beacon in this scary world.” We have to agree.