Posted 3 years ago

Accepting Your Body Post-Cancer

Cancer brings about overwhelming changes mentally, emotionally, and physically. New scars from mastectomies and other surgeries, hair loss, and weight gain, are all significant changes that affect those who have undergone treatment. Some of the changes can be expected and others take patients by surprise. How can you come to love and accept the changes that your body has undergone?

First, it is okay to grieve the change in your body – the full head of hair you started with, the breasts that are no longer there, whether temporarily or permanently. Change is daunting for many and bodily changes are no different. Accepting that you miss your hair, your breasts, or the clear skin you once had, allows you to acknowledge the loss and move forward to acceptance.

Recognize that your body is strong and has undergone trauma from the disease. Like any trauma, it takes time to rebound and heal. Allow your body the time it needs to heal and do not set a timeframe for the recovery. Everyone’s’ cancer journey is unique and as such, the time it may take to resume a feeling of normalcy will likely differ for all.

For some, it may feel as your body has turned against you. Post-treatment, you may feel as though your body let you down when you received the cancer diagnosis. It is normal to experience these feelings. When these negative feelings become overwhelming, acknowledge those feelings, and then recognize what your body is capable of – overcoming the serious, chronic disease.

Accept your scars as a proof of your battle or don’t. It may feel empowering for people to see their surgical scars. Others, see the scars on their bodies as a lingering, traumatic reminder of what they have been through and they wish they were not there. If you appreciate your scars, show them off, talk about your journey and how it changed your life. If you wish to conceal those scars, there are many tattoo artists who work with

cancer patients to create 3D areola tattoos for those who have undergone mastectomies and do not wish to undergo reconstructive surgery. Those same tattoo artists often work to cover surgical scars with your matched skin tone or even a new artistic design.

If you are waiting for your hair to grow back, try on new hairstyles. There are very fashionable short haircuts and you may find that you actually love the new, shorter style on you. If you absolutely do not like the new hair coming in or if it is not coming in as fast as you desire, try on some cute baseball caps or continue wearing your wig a bit longer. There is no limit to how long you can sport your wig.

About Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers

Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers (ICRC) is the largest multi-specialty oncology network in the Greater Metro Phoenix area. They have over 100 medical providers, a robust Integrative Services program, and a dedicated clinical research department. Ironwood Cancer & Research Centers has 15 valley locations and five comprehensive cancer care centers that offer a multi-disciplinary approach for expedited personalized patient care. For more information, please visit