Five local women will soon receive awards from the Women's Economic Development Council Foundation at the "Women Honoring Women" event.
WAAY 31 sat down with one of the honorees, Sandra Cepeda. Cepeda is using her cancer journey to encourage others to follow their dreams.
The trials and tribulations of entrepreneurship is not for the faint of heart. That's why Cepeda lives and breathes by the motto, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
She was born in Colombia and moved, by herself, to Washington, D.C. when she turned 16.
Her goal was to seek the American dream. But, years later, that dream turned into a nightmare when she found herself without a job.
"I never had to look for a job before, so I was getting a little stressed out about it. I was not eating much, I was not sleeping much," Cepeda recalled.
Cepeda went to the place she felt most at-peace... church. "I was disgruntled. I was like, God isn't showing me nothing. I kept praying, praying and nothing."
She wanted to start a company and name it "CSSA," which stands for Cepeda Systems Software Analysis. Cepeda told WAAY 31, that name just came to her. But, she needed to see a sign to know that it was the right move.
While at church, the pastor held up a chart. They bolded the first letter in each paragraph. It spelled out "CSSA." Cepeda said, "It was really just a God moment!"
She opened her business in Huntsville and hung inspirational messages on the walls, windows and clocks in her office. Then, things started to fall into place.
She was living on cloud nine, until, she was diagnosed with a rare cancer in 2007. "That was the first time in life where it became very clear to me that I was not in control," she said.
Doctors told her most people with that type of tumor have digestive issues, use feeding tubes and have extreme prolonged bouts of pain. But, Cepeda experienced none of that. She still worked regular hours and exercised consistently. Her doctors were shocked.
"My doctor said there is no way medically that you should be able to do that. There is great power in prayer. She said absolutely, there is no other explanation," said Cepeda.
Cepeda is still not cancer-free, but the tumor was reduced by 50-percent.
She has a new lease on life and is using every moment to thank God and share her story with the WEDC Foundation scholars. "God has a perfect plan for them. There is something that will not get done on Earth, unless they do it."
As a 2018 "Women Honoring Women" recipient, she is looking forward to seeing those scholars awarded for their merits in the near future.
The Huntsville-Madison County Chamber of Commerce named CSSA as one of the "Best places to work in the area" in 2016 and "Best women-owned business in 2017."
WAAY 31 is a proud sponsor of the WEDC Foundation's "Women Honoring Women" event. It is Thursday, September 20th at the Von Braun Center. Money raised from the event will go towards scholarships and educational workshops for college women.
To learn more about the organization, click HERE.
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