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Managing Body Image Concerns During and After Cancer Treatments

Experiencing changes to your body is typical for someone undergoing cancer treatment. Hair loss, surgery scars, weight loss or gain, struggles with movement and balance, sensitive skin, swelling, and changes in sexual drive are some of the most common changes people with cancer encounter in treatment.

We wish these bodily changes were simply a reminder of the strength and courage a person with cancer possesses as they undergo and complete treatment. But unfortunately, going through these changes can fuel body image issues.

Addressing any body image concerns you have is important because having confidence, high self-esteem, and a positive mindset are integral for getting through what is often a grueling treatment process.

The following tips will help you successfully manage your body image concerns and feel confident again as you navigate cancer treatments.

Feel Your Feelings

It’s difficult for many people to acknowledge their feelings and let them run their course, especially when they’re negative. But it’s essential to do so if you want to manage your body image concerns.

Ignoring how you feel and stuffing your emotions down only guarantees they’ll eventually come to the surface, most likely at a time you aren’t expecting them to. Instead, embrace what you’re feeling, whether it’s anger, confusion, or sadness.

When you’re aware of what you’re feeling and what triggers it, you can find more effective ways to cope. Also, when you ride an emotion out, you’ll see that each one does eventually pass. And you become stronger and more emotionally stable because of it.

Engage in Daily Self-Care

As mentioned above, you need a positive self-image to fuel self-worth and be as confident, healthy, and stress-free as possible. All of which help you better cope with what your body goes through during cancer treatments.

Another great way to gain this positive image of your body and self is to engage in daily self-care. Self-care requires you to learn about yourself and embrace your mind and body in every stage. You eventually learn to love yourself unconditionally and provide what you need to feel good about yourself and your life.

Daily self-care looks different for everyone. A patient undergoing cancer treatments will have to be creative in how they approach self-care. The bodily changes touched on above may limit what you can do physically. But don’t let that stop you.

Simple things like taking your medication every day, spending quality time with your family, writing in a journal, or getting the rest you need each night are forms of self-care. Create a routine that’s mindful of your limitations and represents who you are.

Eat Well and Exercise

Eating well and exercising can also be a part of your self-care routine. They can both be impactful in your quest to manage your body image concerns during and after cancer treatments.

Fueling your body with the right foods and prioritizing physical fitness each day can aid healthy insides. It also helps you get in good shape and create the physique that ignites your confidence and self-esteem.

A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, proteins, dairy, and grains is ideal. However, you should always follow the diet plans your doctor develops. Be sure to also consult them about the exercises that are appropriate for you during and after your cancer treatments to be safe.

Start Going to Therapy

Sometimes, trying to navigate body image concerns and all that comes with treating cancer on your own isn’t effective. You may need to rely on the help of a professional to really dig into your body image issues, cancer’s role in how you’re feeling, and how to improve your situation.

You can expect the following in your first therapy session:

  • Answering questions about yourself and what you’re currently going through.
  • The therapist explaining what kind of therapy they do and how they think they can help.
  • An opportunity to be open about what’s on your mind and follow-up questions from the therapist.
  • A summary of the session and setting goals for future sessions.

Go into therapy with an open mind and a vision for what you want out of it to get the most out of your sessions.

Keep in mind that there are many different kinds of therapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, yoga therapy, and dialectical behavioral therapy. You can also engage in individual or group therapy, with remote or in-person sessions available. So, tailoring your therapy process to your needs won’t be an issue.

Develop a Support System

As weird as this sounds, it’s a good thing that everyone doesn’t see you the way you see you. If you’re struggling with negative thoughts about your body and image, it’s nice to know that there are people around you who don’t see those negative things as you do.

Instead, they see your strength, beauty, courage, and joy, and remind you of it often. They lift you when you’re feeling down. They keep you focused on what you can control and are with you every step of your treatment process. That’s the power of a good support system.

Make sure you have the right people around you to help you keep your body image issues in check.

You have enough to worry about during and after cancer treatments. How you look shouldn’t be on this list. Because regardless of the changes your body is going through, you’re beautiful. Believe this wholeheartedly and show yourself immeasurable amounts of grace during this time.