Body image issues are tough, but worth working on
The MD Anderson Cancer Centre blog, Cancerwise, has published a great story (“Reclaiming her life: A cancer survivor faces body image issues“) about a woman who took her life back after deciding cancer had gotten enough of her–including a third of her tounge, and her self-esteem.
Young Adult Cancer Canada works hard to help young adults dealing with cancer move through and beyond their experiences in order to make the rest of their lives the best of their lives. The message in this article is spot on with the attitudes we encourage and we hope Angela Gass’s story inspires you to take control!
One of the most important messages is from Michelle Cororve Fingeret, Ph.D., assistant professor in MD Anderson’s departments of Behavioral Science, Head and Neck Surgery, and Plastic Surgery. She says, “Body image is very subjective and personal. It is not just about physical appearance. Body image involves perceptions, feelings and thoughts about the entire body and its functioning.”
Just because people say you look fine, it doesn’t mean you feel the same, or that you feel the same as you did before. It’s great if you do, but there’s nothing wrong with recognizing and accepting the person you are now. The important thing is to live unrestricted by your feelings on your new body.
Check out the article for the full story and a lot of wonderful advice, but here are a few select ways you can let fear rule your life, and how to take it back:
- Avoiding or limiting social activities
- Difficulty being intimate with a partner
- Experiencing significant emotional difficulties that interfere with daily activities
If those emotions seem familiar, you should try:
- Focusing on ways to increase self-confidence in social situations
- Discussing treatment decisions that will affect your body
- Set realistic expectations
- Communicate more effectively with others about appearance and body changes
“No matter how depressed or angry I was that this had happened to me, I knew deep down that I was one of the lucky ones,” Gass said. “I felt extremely guilty because I knew I wasn’t really living, even though I was lucky enough to still have a life to live.”