RIO RANCHO, NM — What would Marge Simpson, G.I. Jane and Fräulein Maria from “The Sound of Music” do if they received a breast cancer diagnosis? Beth Pendergrass, of Rio Rancho, New Mexico, is portraying those characters and others in Instagram posts to help lift her spirits as she fights the disease.
Pendergrass has channeled Lucille Ball, Barbra Streisand, Robin Williams’ Mrs. Doubtfire, Marilyn Monroe and Sleeping Beauty. Her favorite impersonation is the silent film icon Charlie Chaplin, who wrote one of her favorite songs, “Smile,” which is particularly apropos given her goal with the Instagram posts.
Her parade of stars on Instagram started as a joke last year after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She began losing her hair, so she cut it short. A friend told her she looked just like the nun-turned-governess in “The Sound of Music” movie.
“So as a joke, I took a picture of myself, placed it next to a picture of Maria from ‘Sound of Music’ and sent it to my friend,” Pendergrass told CBS News.
Her Instagram account has become a photographic journal.
“Through research, I had learned that a number of individuals impacted by cancer recommended keeping a journal,” Pendergrass told CBS. “I knew I didn’t want to keep just any journal. I wanted a clever way to document my journey — to take a challenging experience and turn it into something positive, and this was it.”
Pendergrass told ABC News she likes to make people laugh.
“It’s nice that I could help others while helping myself,” she said.
Pendergrass told CBS that she will be able to look back on her posts “and remember that I am a strong person — I am a survivor and a fighter.”
She will finish her chemotherapy treatment this summer and then move on to radiation therapy.
Here are some of the posts. Follow Beth Pendergrass to find others.