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This Isn’t The Body I Gave Breast Cancer!

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With breast cancer patients experiencing chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and surgeries (possible mastectomy), and Rx physical side effects, it is no wonder that many women don’t like their post-cancer bodies. Accepting the new normal may be difficult for some women. Hair loss, scars, vaginal dryness, and treatment procedures all take their toll on even the strongest of us.
One study used guided imagery in a group therapy session to restore the body image of breast cancer patients. It found imagery therapy to be quite helpful. A review on Cancernursing.com suggests that body image is a concern for all breast cancer surgical survivors. Most prevalent in younger patients. Review implications suggest, “Improvement of body image may improve the quality of life of younger breast cancer survivors.”

Increasing Your Body Image Will Benefit You At Any Age.

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Give yourself time to grieve the loss of your breasts, hair, or physical ability before you decide what to do next.
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Wear things that make you comfortable. If you wore “sexy” underwear before, continue. If you feel your best in a t-shirt, wear one.
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Find clothes you’re comfortable having your partner see you in. Being naked with your partner can be pleasurable, but if you want to cover up more than usual, that’s OK.
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If you’ve had reconstruction, consider nipple or areola tattoos, if that is important to you.
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Eat healthy and limit alcohol. A good diet can help you maintain weight and make you feel well physically and emotionally. If you need help, consider talking with a nutritionist about your unique situation.
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If you have a partner, talk about how you feel. Open communication is one of the best ways to actively cope with challenges in relationships, and though it may be uncomfortable to bring up sex, talking now sets the stage for later.
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If you’re single or dating casually, take as much time as you need to start a physical relationship. You may find yourself wondering if negative experiences are caused by a lack of connection or by your partner’s feelings about your body or the cancer. Who you choose to share your body with is your decision.
MD Anderson Hospital has a support group named Body Image Therapy Program that focuses on body image matters for breast cancer patients.

Look for support groups at your hospital, your church, ask your oncologist or others who had this experience