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Cancer and Body Image

Worried about your body image with a cancer diagnosis?

Your body may change from having cancer or cancer treatment. Those changes can affect your confidence and how you feel about your body and yourself. Even when physical change is minimal, you may feel different about your body as a result of living with cancer.It’s natural to feel insecure, especially at a time when consumers are bombarded with images of youthful and healthy people enjoying life. But don’t be too hard on yourself. There are ways to move from unhealthy thinking, stay connected with yourself and feel confident.Talking to a therapist or joining a support group can help relieve the stress patients feel about the effects of cancer, including physical changes.

5 tips for dealing with physical changes from cancer

Your cancer journey can feel like a roller-coaster of emotions. That’s normal. You may worry, grieve and even feel angry about the physical changes to your body. Here are five things you can do to help manage concerns and regain a sense of control.

  1. Consider asking your partner to go to your medical appointments with you. Talk to your provider about what to expect regarding physical changes and cancer treatment.
  2. View pictures ahead of time at the surgeons office of what is possible for reconstruction so that you have a realistic expectation
  3. Consider a special nightgown or being partially clothed if you don’t feel ready to show your naked body to your partner
  4. If you are feeling depressed or overwhelmed, think about seeing a counselor.  Talking about your feelings is a much healthier choice.
  5. Support groups mean a lot to people with cancer, as they are a place to share common concerns, including the effects and impact of cancer on your body image.

The support of others who understand what you're going through can often be a powerful source of healing. Learn more and find a support group near you.
If you would like more information on this topic or others, reach out to one of our health educators for help.
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