When Anglee Kumar takes to the stage next month in her quest to reach the Miss Universe final, she will already be a winner in the hearts of millions.
Not for its appearance, as beautiful as it is, but for qualities far beyond the skin. For his courage and determination.
Because Anglee will be wearing a wig after losing the waist-length flowing hair she loved after chemotherapy for her stage four cancer.
Her eyelashes and eyebrows matched. Her fingernails turned black.
But when she takes part in the Miss Universe GB leg of the pageant, she thinks she will look more radiant than ever.
“When I’m on stage, I’ll feel strong, strong and beautiful,” says Anglee, 27.
“Yes, I will wear a wig, but my confidence in what I’ve overcome will shine through.
“I’ve been through so much and now I want to be a voice for other young women living with cancer.
“I want them to know that help is there, that you can get better and have a fulfilling life again.”
But it was an arduous journey towards the self-confidence that now shines in Anglee – with incredible support from cancer charities like Macmillan.
In February 2021, the gym-loving paralegal, who has a master’s degree in law, began experiencing heart palpitations and chest discomfort.
She went to A&E and was told it was anxiety and she should cut down on caffeine and alcohol.
Still, Anglee thought it was worse than that. She continued to push for tests, but it took months before her cancer was diagnosed.
A biopsy found four lesions in the top of his diaphragm and lungs. And in November 2021, he was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
She says, “My world has collapsed. I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t expect cancer.
“I was devastated and didn’t know how I was going to get out of this.”
Then the grueling chemotherapy began, making her so ill that she was repeatedly hospitalized.
Anglee – who lives in London with her parents Mala, 47, and Mohan, 54, and three siblings, including her twin sister Tina – says: “I felt weak, sick and disgusting.
“I was traumatized by what was happening to me. I cried every day, I didn’t want to leave my room. I couldn’t even talk to friends.
And for Anglee, losing the beautiful hair she considered part of her identity was upsetting.
She said, “I couldn’t face it. No matter how hard you try to mentally prepare for it, you can’t. Mom would pick it up off the floor.
“I was too scared to brush it. I finally had two locks on either side of my head, but I didn’t want to cut them. Then my mom sat me down and said it was time. So we did. was heartbreaking.
“I stopped wearing makeup and didn’t care how I looked.”
Another struggle for Anglee was having to keep her cancer to herself.
“I come from a small, very narrow-minded Indian/Afghan community where no young people have ever had cancer, so I was asked to keep it a secret. They believe that sick women will find it difficult to find a husband, so it is a taboo subject. I had two Instagram accounts – one where I talked about it and one where I didn’t.
Now she is determined to break taboos for other young victims. “Finally, I said to my parents, ‘I speak. I do this for people who are not well.
“I want to break stereotypes so people can get help, which is an important part of your recovery.”
As her self-confidence slowly returned, she turned to a long-held dream of one day competing in Miss Universe.
“Treatment was the darkest time of my life, but through it all I felt the need to use my experience to help others. I believe my cancer has reached stage four as I don’t I haven’t been taken seriously by doctors for so long. Because I’m young and feminine, I had to fight for tests. I don’t want other young sufferers to go through this.
“Having cancer is by no means attractive, so I thought having a glamorous platform like Miss Universe behind me would help me get my story heard.
“I kept telling myself that if I could push myself to be brave, then I could make a difference. So I entered the competition and took the opportunity to regain my motivation and my confidence. But Anglee first had to pull herself out of depression, she turned to Macmillan Cancer Support.
“They immediately put me in therapy. Removing a lot of things from my chest has helped me tremendously. The first step towards her dream was to find a wig like her old hair. “I will be forever grateful to my parents for helping me pay for my wig. It cost £2,000 but really helped with my confidence. It is long and dark with highlights just like the hair I I lost.
Another cancer support charity – Look Good, Feel Better – helped Anglee with makeup and nail tutorials, showing her how to cover up the effects of chemo. She said: “They are an amazing charity. I did a nail tutorial with them that showed me how to cover up the mess. They sent me a gift with makeup and creams. I learned how to draw on my eyebrows and apply false eyelashes.
In February Anglee completed her last round of chemo and after two scans she was told she was in remission.
She said: “It was the most amazing moment. Hearing that I no longer needed chemo was the best thing in the world. Shortly after the good news, Anglee learned that she had made the final of Miss Universe GB.
“I felt euphoric and like I had come full circle. It really boosted my confidence and made me feel beautiful again.
Now she is preparing for the final between July 7 and 9 in South Wales – and is aiming for the biggest prize. She said: ‘Britain has never won the international Miss Universe pageant in the history of the pageant. I want to take the crown home.
Macmillan’s helpline is 0808 808 00 00. To vote for Anglee, text GB ANGLEE to 64343. Cost £1 which goes to A-Sisterhood, a UK organization that supports women around the world.