In the stress leading up to her wedding day, Kandice Benford suddenly had a whole new problem to worry about — her vitiligo — which got much worse overnight.
The bride-to-be was already focused on wedding planning and taking care of her sick fiancé, and she thinks the stress caused the biggest case of vitiligo she’s ever had.
“I just wanted everything to be perfect!” Benford, 32, tells PEOPLE of her big day.
She first developed vitiligo at age 18, in college, but it was just a small spot on her hand that quickly went away. This time she was “really freaked out” to see it all over her face.
“I was worried about how other people would see me,” Benford, a hairstylist in Terry, Mississippi, says. “People would stop and stare at me, and kids always ask, ‘What’s that on her face?’ ”
Her first instinct was to cover it up, “but my husband told me I’m beautiful without all the makeup,” Benford says.
And when their wedding day came around, she decided to just wear a light layer of makeup.
“I didn’t really want to cover everything up,” Benford says. “I just wanted to embrace my beauty.”
These days, she doesn’t feel a need to cover up her vitiligo.
“I can honestly say having vitiligo has made me a stronger person, and more confident in myself,” Benford says. “I love it, it makes me unique.”
“To anyone else going through this: love yourself. Be patient with yourself. You are stronger than you think!”
This story originally appeared on people.com.