In the midst of this year's NYFW, the fashion world was rocked by the loss of one of its own.
Fashion and lifestyle blogger Kyrzayda Rodriguez lost her battle with stomach cancer on September 9th. She was just 40 years old. Having been featured everywhere from Vogue Italia to Refinery29, the blogger and mother definitely made her mark in the fashion world. But the way she handled her journey over the last year has made her more than just a fashion blogger: she was an beautiful example of what it means to truly have grace under fire.
When Kyrzayda announced her diagnosis to her nearly half a million followers on Instagram last November, the outpouring of support and love soon followed. As she continued to document her journey and battle with the various treatments, somehow Kyrzayda maintained the impeccable sense of style the world knew her for, but also remained optimistic, hopeful, and candid about her experience. With breathtaking photography and styling that at once seemed effortlessly elegant yet attainable, Kyrzayda documented her journey with her battle for her fans turned support system.
She was also very candid about her fears about undergoing treatment and the eventual hair loss that accompanies the process. Kyrzayda openly admitted her attachment to her hair, but when she did eventually lose her hair, instead of covering it up with a wig, she bravely used her baldness as one of her best accessories. She was able to take her loss and turn it into a positive, reminding her followers to live in the moment without being so distracted by the external. She said:
"Learn to embrace the little things in life like your sense to feel, see, and touch. We get so distracted by what we wear, we forget to love the skin. Spend a little more time each day loving every inch of YOU!!"
However, the chemo and radiation treatments weren't working well enough to stave off her stage 4 cancer diagnosis. In August, Kyrzayda revealed that she decided to discontinue the treatments she was receiving so that she could "enjoy the rest of my time with my friends and family and to be as pain free as possible." In a post to her followers on Instagram, she not only shared her reasons for forgoing any further treatment, she also reminds us that God makes no mistakes despite the fact that she would never stop fighting despite it all. She wrote:
"Everyone's journey is different, God does not make mistakes, what is supposed to happen will happen. I am not mad…I am grateful for all of the opportunities I have been blessed with. One of the best things you can do for someone going through something like this is to support their decision. I will never give up on my fight."
Cancer does not discriminate. It doesn't pick favorites, and it doesn't care who you are. And according to the American Cancer Society, African Americans have the highest death rate and shortest survival of any racial and ethnic group in the US for most cancers. Personally, I don't know anyone who hasn't been victimized by cancer: whether it be a friend or family member or their own journey, cancer affects us all.
Kyrzayda's story is an example that you can be fighting a battle, but you can do so with style, grace, and a grateful spirit. Even in her final hours, Kyrzayda was encouraging her followers to chase after their dreams. Despite the fact that she didn't have much strength left, she wanted her family, friends, and followers to know how grateful she was for the outpouring of support. She also left us with a final message that we all should be grateful to receive. In her last Instagram Live from her hospital bed, she urged:
"Go. Do it; don't wait for another day, another hour, or another time. Go and do it NOW!"
They say only the good die young, and from the outpouring of condolences from celebrities to her own followers, Kyrzayda was more than good at what she loved to do most. She has inspired her followers--and now many more through hearing her story--with her ability to remain optimistic despite battling stage 4 cancer. She slayed every time she posted on Instagram, regardless of how she may have looked or felt physically. But most of all, she was just so positive that it makes you realize that anyone can find a ray of light regardless of what we're going through.
Let Kyrzayda's example radiate as much as her personality did: go and do it! Whatever "it" is, go after it fearlessly. Share your journey, your struggles and triumphs, alike. But above all, never give up the fight!