Thursday, 19 October 2017

Weekly Discussion Summary ~ Body Image

Reflections via the mirror

Our Sunday discussion this week focused on body image, and particularly weight gain.

Breast cancer robs us of our womanhood. Treatment gives us a changed body, and a troubled mind. That mind may have problems accepting the new body, where has our femininity gone? We may have artificial breasts, a flat chest, uneven breasts, deformed breasts. Hormone treatments remove the substances that our body needs for libido to function. What chance do we have of a normal sex life if we feel let down by our bodies, somehow less of a woman, physically unattractive and mentally scarred.  Many women report being unhappy with their looks and dissatisfied with their intimate lives.

Weight gain is common due to the drug regime used to treat cancer and often continues for many years post active treatment.The inactivity enforced during treatment and recovery also contributes. When we are able to exercise again our bodies are storing fat, and we struggle to shed the pounds even with very careful healthy eating. 

For those who lose their hair during treatment there is another blow to womanhood, and for many it doesn't grow back afterwards like it was before. Menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes add to feeling unfit and unglamorous. 

Our members have both primary and secondary diagnoses, and our medical teams may tell us that reaching and maintaining a healthy weight may be beneficial in keeping the disease at bay and in preventing progression in secondaries. This means we become more unhappy and perhaps fearful if we are overweight.

We find ourselves envious of women who show off their cleavage. We mourn the loss of the woman we were before breast cancer so cruelly changed us. This takes a huge toll on our wellbeing and self-confidence.

We are strong proud women, and every day we cope, and very often excel, in the face of these and many other challenges. We shower and show up, some of us wear make-up, we find clothes that flatter as well as being comfortable. We find new ways to be in our relationships, sometimes we move on to someone new, sometimes we find solace in a long standing partner who helps us to get through it. Even though many of us confess to hating our bodies, we are living our lives as best we can. 

What we see in the mirror may not please us, how we feel may not please us. However, we keep on, we don't give up or give in.

No comments: