The social media scene may be overflowing with overexposed celebrities taking selfies and tweeting every minute detail of their daily routine, but there’s at least one online star left who’s worth following.
Meet GrandmaBetty33: an 80-year-old great grandmother from Jefferson, Indiana whose three-month-old Instagram account has nearly 500,000 followers. The words “love” and “smile” appear in nearly every one of her 71 posts—except the one that features her in a bright red sweater and boxing gloves, punching animatedly underneath a sign that reads “Grandma Betty, kicking cancer’s butt since December, 2013.”
Grandma Betty—whose real name is Betty Simpson—has terminal lung cancer. Shortly after her diagnosis, her great-grandson, Zach Belden, decided to create an Instagram account to document not only Betty’s cancer battle, but her life as well.
“It’s a joy to see a big smile on her face when I tell her she has yet another hundred followers,” Belden writes on GrandmaBetty33′s profile. “I truly think that you have helped her fight cancer, and it really means the world to me and my family. Let’s continue to spread the word that Cancer CAN be fought, and being Happy while fighting it is most certainly possible.” And word has certainly spread; GrandmaBetty33 has followers that hail from Mechanicsburg, Ohio, all the way to Morocco, Bahrain and Norway.
“She’s also helping me fighting cancer by filling me with her positivity and strength! God Bless Her!” writes pawisv, one of her avid Instagram followers.
Therein lies the true potential of the ever-more-closely-connected online universe: to inspire. Countless individuals beyond her hundreds of thousands of followers have been affected by GrandmaBetty33′s unique brand of life-affirming wisdom.
Grandma Betty’s journey hasn’t been easy — a reality that is tactfully captured on her account via pictures of her sleeping, or simple messages from her grandson that read, “The past few days have been rough and Grandma’s been feeling bad, but overall, she’s doing better.”
If that’s not enough to make you want to check out Grandmabetty33, you should also know that she managed to sneak in a joke at Miley Cyrus’ expense while waiting at the oncologist’s office. The caption for the photo below reads, “Guess who’s at the cancer doctor eating blue candy? @MileyCyrus has nothing on #GrandmaBetty.”
And she can boogie with the best of them:
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