Breast Cancer survivors may have an altered body image due to operations and some of the treatment side effects such as weight gain, or loss, and hair loss. As this body image change is usually sudden and dramatic, you may find yourself feeling uncomfortable. For some women this is accompanied by feelings of fear, shame, embarrassment, inferiority and anger. When the changes are visible to others, these feelings can be reinforced by the reactions of others when they notice the changes.
When someone is anxious about their body image, reassurance does not usually help because it only gives a short-term release from anxiety. Rather talk to your partner about your fears and concerns. Some people may feel comfortable talking to a counsellor. Partners also may have fears about changes in their loved one’s body and may also need to talk through their fears with a professional person.
For some women the surgical sites and scars may be upsetting, and they will not want to let their partner see them naked or undressed. If your new breasts have made you more sensitive about your body, find someone on your health care team to talk to about it. Some people find it helpful to look in the mirror and process what they have been through. As you feel stronger and healthier, you will start adjusting to your new body image.
TIPS FOR MANAGING ALTERED BODY IMAGE:
1. Take time to physically recover from surgery.
2. Gradually become more active to enhance your stamina.
3. Take time daily to pay attention to your appearance. For example, wear clothing that makes you feel attractive and comfortable.
4. Do something special for yourself each day to enhance your joy of life.
5. Attend a support group to discuss your concerns with others.
6. Read a book that discusses how to manage your concerns.
7. Talk to your health care team to let them know how you are feeling.
Written by Elna Mcintosh