Being a breast cancer survivor can give you a lot of overwhelming emotions. Going through cancer is already a tough journey as it could change your life forever. You go through series of treatments and operations, which sometimes include mastectomy. Undergoing and surviving mastectomy can be very impactful not only physically, but mostly emotionally.
It may be hard to accept your body right away after the operation. Your breasts have always been part of you your whole life as a woman, and, unfortunately, it had to be taken out for the best. Not only will you lose your breasts, but you gain scars too. Undergoing treatments for a long time can also result in weight gain, hair loss, and skin dryness. All these physical changes will make it harder for you to regain the self-esteem and self-confidence you had prior to the mastectomy.
There’s a correlation between women’s mental health and self-esteem. There is evidence that breast cancer patients go through psychological and emotional challenges after their surgery as shown in this study. To combat these negative feelings about yourself, here are four tips to help you feel comfortable after surviving mastectomy:
As you look at your reflection in the mirror, you’ll see the profound changes that surgery has brought to your body, and the trauma will rush back into your memories. But, by truly looking at yourself, you’ll see how resilient your body was to be able to go through all of it. You may have lost a part of you, but the truth is, your body has proven to you how strong it was to get through cancer. Not all women were lucky enough to survive cancer, so appreciating your body is the reasonable thing to do. You can start focusing on how progressive your body has become, after all.
While it may take a long time before you finally see things in a positive light, you can start by keeping a journal and writing down all your frustrations, sadness, and grief for your body. Writing can help you get those feelings out in a healthy way, and, soon, it’ll help you recover and slowly become more positive.
Maybe the first thing you’d try to do after surgery is fit into your old clothes. Unfortunately, as you force yourself into your old clothes, it will only make you become more conscious of your body changes and eventually compare with your past self. To avoid discouragement and insecurity with your past self, pack away all your old clothes and buy new outfits for yourself. Think of this as a way of celebrating your second life by embracing changes and getting into new styles.
If you’re ready to play at the beach, buy some mastectomy swim suits for yourself. These one-piece swimsuits will look good on you, and you won’t have to worry about your scars or your breasts. Their specific styles and cuts will look flattering on your body, making you feel good. Don’t force your body into your old swimsuits. Welcome the changes. You’ve been through a lot, so embrace your new look and love yourself for it.
Another way of gaining back your groove and self-confidence is living a healthy lifestyle. Don’t pressure yourself to do intense exercises right away. You’d have to ask your doctor about those anyway. Start the lifestyle switch by eating better and healthier. Make more time for self-care, do long walks, and go out under the sun. Keeping yourself occupied with a healthy lifestyle will take your thoughts away from your external physical changes. A healthy lifestyle will make you feel good within. When you feel good within, eventually you’ll feel good about your whole self too.
Self-care is a necessity, so it’s not about being selfish. It would be hard to care for others if you can’t take care of yourself first. If you don’t make time for self-care, eventually, your insecurities will resurface, and you’ll be back to self-doubting again. Self-care is not only about pampering yourself with massages or material things, but it’s about taking care of your inner self. That is your mental wellness.
Some self-care tips you can do include:
The most common thing you may notice with the mentioned tips is that it’s all about you, your mental wellness, and what you need.
Understandably, it will take time for some to accept and love their bodies again after mastectomy. But, by following these tips above, you can take each day slowly in finding love for yourself. There may be times when sudden self-doubt will attack you, but don’t forget to remind yourself that it’s fine not to be, and it’s fine to be different. Regardless of how slow the process is, you must never give up on yourself. Soon enough, as your physical wounds will heal, so will your self-confidence and inner self.