Miss Arizona Contestant Kristina Anderson Battling Rare Ovarian Cancer

10/16/2013 at 04:30 PM EDT

Miss Arizona Contestant Kristina Anderson Battling Rare Ovarian Cancer
Kristina Anderson
Courtesy Kristina Anderson
A lot of cancer patients set goals when they're going through chemotherapy, but Kristina Anderson is pushing herself to do something out of the ordinary.

The 25-year-old is competing in the upcoming Miss Arizona pageant.

Anderson, who was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer in July, tells Today.com, "I thought it would be a really good distraction."

The Illinois native, who lives in Scottsdale, Ariz., recently went shopping to pick out the evening gown, interview dress and earrings she will wear for the competition, which takes place in late November.



But while most beauty contestants have long flowing hair, Anderson, who's lost her locks after undergoing chemotherapy, will be wearing scarves on her head.

"I have to get used to my new look," she admits.

Miss Arizona executive director Britt Boyse says Anderson is "a pretty amazing young lady."

"I met Kristina when we had one of our meetings for prospective contestants, and when she told me she was signing up and had a rare form of ovarian cancer, I said, 'Are you sure you want to do this on top of everything you're going through?' She said, 'I want something positive to look forward to.' "

Anderson has just started three weeks of chemotherapy, which won't give her much time to physically prep for the competition – it begins on Nov. 29. But she's already mentally prepared for it, and for any other challenges life throws her way.

"Rather than focusing on white blood cell numbers, the reality of the disease and the outcomes, staying positive is half the battle," she says. "I see a lot of people who get down and depressed and crawl in a hole, and my idea is to be positive as possible."

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