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Accepting Your Body

Posted 3/30/2016

Posted in

  Cancer treatment changes a lot of things, and one of those things is often our bodies. There are lots of ways this can happen, but none of them result in an improved physical self. The changes may include hair loss (temporary, yes, but it lasts for months), amputation of a body part, surgical scars, reconstructed body parts, weight gain or loss, diminished strength, lymphedema. It goes on and on.

  Most people find a way to adapt. It is definitely better to be alive and changed than to be dead, but that does not mean that we have to like our physical selves. I believe there is a way, however, to love our bodies even if we don't much like parts of the way we now look. When I get out of the shower and look in the mirror, I surely look different than I did pre-cancer, but I feel well and strong, and that is what matters most.

  Here is another perspective from Cancer Today: 

Honor Your Body
Coming to terms with feelings and emotions about weight gain and weight loss is often part of a cancer
patient's experience. By Sue Rochman
When Laura Walker was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 2012, how much she weighed was the
furthest thing from her mind. She was more concerned about the side effects of chemotherapy, surgery
and radiation. Then, a year after her mastectomy, Walker, a mother of four from West Columbia, Texas,
went to see a plastic surgeon at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston to
discuss her breast reconstruction. The surgeon didn’t ask Walker to undress or take a look at her scar.
“Just looking at me, she knew I was too big,” she says.
It was January 2014. Walker was 41 years old and weighed 328 pounds. Her body mass index (BMI) was
53. She had been overweight for more than a decade. To have surgery, she learned, her BMI would have to
be 35 or less. “I didn’t even know what BMI was,” says Walker. “I was just living my life. I was happy. I
gave no thought to what I was eating or what I weighed.” That would need to change. Her body was
carrying a 100-pound obstacle that stood between her and a new right breast.

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  • Hester said:
    3/30/2016 2:10 PM

    Thanks to Patricia for sending on this suggestion:

    When I first came to Portland, I was seeking ways to get connected to the local photography community. I was fortunate to meet Laura Valenti, a wonderful photographer and lovely person who has become a mentor and a friend. Your blog post this morning made me think of one of her online courses, Meditations on Gratitude. You don't need to be a "real" photographer to do this course...she welcomes any and all cameras and levels of experience. And many folks use their iphones. And the emphasis is self explanatory-she guides the enrollee through a series of exercises and one can post images on the site for support and feedback. It is inspirational to see other peoples posts.

    So, as I read your blog about accepting one's body, I was struck by how her course fit into this. One of her specific exercises focuses on the body. But all are focused on our being grateful for any number of things which I think could be very useful to cancer patients and survivors (sorry- I know you hate the word). If you are interested in exploring this resource, here is the link to her next class starting in late June.