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Body Image & Cancer

Updated: Dec 15, 2022


Doctor's hands on table facing cancer patient

Short and long-term changes to your body are common after cancer treatment. Not everyone reacts the same way to these changes, but many people feel self-conscious about their appearance. This can make it hard to socialise, be intimate with your partner or even be around loved ones as you may be worried about how people will react.


Thankfully I have an incredibly supportive partner who did his best to make me feel beautiful the whole way through my treatment. We talked about how the changes made me feel and how that impacted our relationship. This was so important as talking openly about how we both felt made everything less awkward, allowed him to support me better and took the pressure off when I wasn't feeling up to getting down and dirty.


Even through the steroid bloating, no eyebrows and baldy head phase he never once made me feel unattractive. This was great as I did a fabulous job of that myself!


Here are some tips that may help to improve body image during treatment:

  1. Acknowledge and accept your body's new look but be grateful for how amazing it is getting you through this treatment.

  2. If you have a partner, being open and honest about how you feel will give them the knowledge they need to support you through this.

  3. Build up your confidence. Wear clothes that make you feel good or get a friend to join you for a makeover. I treated myself to new clothes from my favourite labels and enjoyed dressing up & heading out for dinner occasionally.

  4. Find a support group for people who are going through the same thing. I found Facebook groups were great for this.

  5. Be prepared for questions that may make you uncomfortable. I understood that people's intentions are usually good but it can be upsetting if people ask about changes to your appearance and you aren't prepared.

  6. A healthy body leads to positive feelings. Eat nutritious foods to help your physical and mental wellbeing.... but at the same time if you need cake to get you through the day don't beat yourself up about it.

  7. Not only does working out keep you feeling good, but it can also give you some control over how your body changes during treatment. You may experience weight fluctuations as a result of chemotherapy, but remaining active can help manage the 'chemo kilos.' I also found keeping active helped reduce neuropathy.

  8. Spend time with people that make you feel good and accept you as you are. I had a couple of 'safe' friends and they were worth their weight in gold.


Where you can find light in everyday situations and see if you can turn some shit parts into fun. I hated that I had to wear a wig as despite cold capping I lost about 50% of my hair. I took my partner wig & headpiece shopping and we had fun trying on wigs and head scarfs (he got quite into the scarfs).



Doing some or all of these things can not only help enhance your body image, it can also aid in your recovery both physically and mentally.


 

Products to help with body image

These products are selected to work with the recommendation above.



The Cancer Diet Cookbook.

The Cancer Diet Cookbook can help you during treatment and recovery by offering tons of healthy and tasty meal options made in 30 minutes or less, with five simple ingredients, or all in one pot.


Click to purchase



Fitbit Luxe Activity Tracker

As exercise can help you with your cancer treatment and recovery now might be a great time to invest in a fitness tracker if you haven't already. The Fitbit is a great option which encourages mindfulness plus tracks exercise and sleep.


Click to purchase



Satin Head Scarfs


Play around with head scarves to see what styles and colours suit you. This style was great for me when I lost most of my hair.


Click to purchase

Support Resources

Cancer Council Australia

CCA an organisation to support all Australians affected by cancer through support, research and prevention programs.


Ovarian Cancer Australia

OCA is an independent national not-for-profit organisation, supporting women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Our focus is to provide care and support for those affected by ovarian cancer; and represent them by leading change. Our vision is to save lives and ensure no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.


Breast Cancer Network Australia

BCNA Breast Cancer Network Australia (BCNA) is Australia’s leading breast cancer consumer organisation. We have worked tirelessly to ensure that all Australians who are affected by breast cancer receive the very best care, treatment and support.


Bowel Cancer Australia

BCA Peer-to-Peer Support Network connects patient’s and loved ones on a one-to-one buddy basis that enables members to give and receive advice about their bowel cancer experience in an informal and mutually beneficial way.


Leukaemia Foundation

LF is a support service for patients and supporters dealing with blood cancers.


*FU Cancer is supported by its audience. If you choose to purchase through the links on our site we may receive an affiliate commission. This goes towards paying our expenses plus a percentage of our monthly profit goes towards directly helping people with cancer. If you know someone who could do with a boost during their cancer treatment please let us know here.



*FU Cancer is supported by its audience. If you choose to purchase through the links on our site we may receive an affiliate commission. This goes towards paying our expenses plus a percentage of our monthly profit goes towards directly helping people with cancer. If you know someone who could do with a boost during their cancer treatment please let us know here.





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