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Let's discuss cancer and body image: Online communities share their thoughts

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The effects of cancer and treatment can cause significant physical changes to the way you look, which may be temporary or permanent. You may find your self-esteem, sex drive and sex life really suffers as a result. Even if you look much the same on the outside during or after your cancer experience, you may still feel different about yourself and your body image.

We asked our Facebook fans and online community members to share their experiences and thoughts about cancer and body image, and we hope their insights can provide positive encouragement to those who are currently dealing with body issues from cancer.

Bald is beautiful
Losing your hair during cancer treatment creates a choice: wearing a wig or some type of head covering, or not. Most of our social media fans who experienced baldness from treatment said they felt more comfortable with a bare head than covering it up. “Bald is beautiful” seemed to be the positive sentiment from many who spoke about losing their hair and eyebrows. And a few emphasized that hair loss is temporary, and one suggested hair regrowth could be seen as a rebirth.

Scars are battle marks
Not only did our community members speak about displaying their bald heads with pride, the overwhelming majority also said scars from cancer surgery should be thought of as battle marks to be proud of. There’s no denying the physical changes and scarring, particularly from breast cancer surgery, can be very difficult to adjust to. Our social media fans and community members encouraged cancer survivors to view their surgery scars as medals or victory marks as they gradually accepted the physical changes to their bodies.

Love is all you need
Some of our Facebooks fans spoke about the love and support of family going a long way to help cancer patients who are struggling with the physical effects of cancer and treatment. Being hugged, touched, smiled at, even being told their baldness is sexy, can help to boost up a cancer survivor’s self-esteem. And when it comes to reigniting a couple’s sex life after cancer treatment, patience may be the key.

Let your inner beauty shine
Cancer may cause physical changes to the landscape of your body, but it can never take away your inner beauty. That’s what many of our social media fans expressed, saying true beauty comes from the inside out. Staying positive and keeping a smile on your face are ways to let your inner beauty shine. A healthy and loving heart helps provide strength to a weak body battling cancer. Community members and Facebook fans shared that although staying positive can be very difficult at times, living in the moment helps to keep your mind at ease. As several people wrote, you are loved for so much more than your outward appearance.

If you’re interested in learning more about body image, self-esteem and sexuality as a result of cancer, read the Canadian Cancer Society’s publication Sexuality and Cancer.

Our community members and Facebook fans shared many ways that cancer has impacted their body image, join in on the discussion here



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