We often hear that it’s what is on the inside that counts. However, when tragedies of any kind strike, people often lose sight of themselves from the inside out. When battling cancer, both men and women are likely to experience side effects affecting their day-to-day quality of life. When depression and anxiety are paired with the physical changes that occur during treatment and as a result of the disease, exuding self-love and confidence become seemingly impossible. Fortunately, with a little bit of patience and a lot of compassion, finding self-love and healing in an altering body is an attainable goal.
Remember: You are YOU!
Despite experiencing new mental health issues and seeing many physical changes, it is important to remember that you are still the same person you were prior to treatment. All of the little quirks and habits that you’ve acquired throughout your life are still a part of you. The compassion, love and kindness you had before the diagnosis are still a part of you. The charisma, the spark in your eyes and your passions make you who you are. No disease can take that away from you. You may struggle to see it or to remember it, but with time that realization can and does come.
What have you gained?
At face value, it may feel like you have lost a lot during treatment. You may have lost your abundance of energy. You may feel that losing your hair is like losing your identity. There are many losses that may have occurred, and you have every right to mourn them. But, after mourning the losses, consider what you have gained. You have gained the perspective and strength to win one of the biggest battles in your life. You have gained new healthy habits. Maybe you even feel more aware of what’s going on in your body. When you contemplate the things that you have gained from the struggle, it won’t get rid of the feeling of loss. It will, however, help you to be proud of yourself and appreciate what you are capable of.
Manage your mental health
Whether your mental health is at risk or you are unhappy about your appearance on the other side of the battle, the best thing you can do is take action. If your mental health is at risk, it is important to talk to a trusted professional—or at least a family member, friend or someone who has had a similar experience as you now face. Depression, anxiety and other mental health issues are common for cancer survivors and can be treated. If scheduling an appointment with a doctor is overwhelming, contact a friend for assistance. This friend can be someone to help you schedule an appointment, assist in finding a cancer support group or even lend an ear themselves. After winning an intense battle, you have earned the right to happiness and to a high quality of life. Don’t let mental health issues rob you of that right.
Take control of your appearance
Accepting the physical changes your body is enduring is difficult. While some changes, like hair loss, may be temporary, it does not make the transition any easier. Instead of waiting to return to your pre-cancer self, find a way to love your reflection right away. It could be something as simple as a new outfit or as intense as a strengthening workout plan. Taking control of your appearance and health will put you back in the driver’s seat for your own happiness. You’ll have the opportunity to express yourself and celebrate your clean bill of health.