Breast cancer survivor Kim Becking motivates Stephens College students

Thursday, August 29, 2013 | 6:08 p.m. CDT; updated 6:14 p.m. CDT, Thursday, August 29, 2013
Author and cancer survivor Kim Becking addresses the opening convocation at Stephens College on Thursday.

COLUMBIA — A pair of women’s black underwear made an appearance Thursday at the Stephens College annual Academic Opening Convocation. Kim Becking, a nationally recognized motivational speaker and breast cancer survivor, preached to faculty and students that sometimes you just have to put on your "big girl panties."

"Sometimes in life, life's going to knock us down, and we have to be willing to get back up and wipe the tears away," Becking said. "It’s OK to cry, it's OK to ask for help, but then put on your big girl panties, put a smile on your face and get back out there."

In honor of the first day of classes and the 180th year of the school, Becking spoke to faculty and students about the importance of facing failure.

"Most successful people in life fail, and they take risks, so you can't let fear of failure stop you," she said. "I don't want to be one of those people that look back when I am 90 and say, 'I wish I would have tried that,' and I don't want you to be one of those people. So don't be afraid of failure."

Becking also presented what she calls her "recipe for survivorship," from which she has turned the word "survivor" into an acronym. The letter "O" stands for optimism.

"One day, during my cancer treatment, it was one of those days where I felt good enough to go out. I wanted to feel normal, so when I was at the grocery store I saw these green bananas," Becking said. "I started putting all these green bananas in my cart. I am sure everyone there thought I had lost my mind, but to me those bananas signified hopefulness and that I would be here when they ripened."

Becking said that everyone needs to find their own "O" — their own sense of optimism.

"I really liked what she said about optimism, and the banana thing really struck me," Effie Frank, the school's Student Government Association president, said. "Sometimes I get so caught up in what's happening right now, like it's the end-all if I don't do an assignment perfectly. But just knowing that I will move past that eventually, it's like knowing that I will be there when the bananas are ripe."

The convocation was held this morning in the Kimball Ballroom of Lela Raney Wood Hall.

Becking's book, "Nordie's at Noon: The Personal Stories of Four Women 'Too Young' for Breast Cancer," is available for purchase at the school's store. Her website is

Supervising editor is Elizabeth Brixey.

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