Accepting a different body

It’s very possible that your body will change during and after cancer. You might have surgery, be left with scars, and feel weaker than you were before. This is especially difficult for young adults when so much of our identity is tied up in the way we look. We’re expected to be healthy and fit and accepting that we’re not like our friends is hard.

Your doctor is focused on making sure the cancer is gone. If they are not addressing your feelings about your new body and your attitude toward it, ask if they can recommend a counsellor or group to help you maintain your self-esteem and confidence.

We are not suggesting you should be self-conscious about the way you look or feel; scars, crutches, and fatigue are de rigueur around here. Fortunately, so are increased strength, a good self-image, and a healthy determination to care for your body more than you did before.

Michelle Cororve Fingeret, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Behavioral Science at the MD Anderson Cancer said, “I strongly encourage cancer patients to talk with their doctors about body image issues. This is extremely important before treatment so they’ll be better prepared for what to expect in terms of disfigurement or functional loss. Patients with unrealistic body image expectations end up having a much more difficult time adjusting.”

If you are struggling with your body’s limitations, consider coming to Retreat Yourself this year. We are holding Retreats in Newfoundland from April 28-May 2, and British Columbia from July 28-August 1 this year. You’ll be able to connect with others who “get it” in a relaxing and revitilizing atmosphere.


MD Anderson Cancer Centre