Coping With Body Image Issues After Cancer Treatment
- Shannen Doherty recently opened up about how she struggled with thin eyebrows after undergoing chemotherapy for breast cancer.
- The 51-year-old actress got her confidence back with eyebrow micropigmentation, which injects pigment into the skin.
- Micropigmentation is a procedure that shapes and darkens the brows and results can last from 12 to 18 months. Cancer survivors also turn to other alternatives, like temporary brow tattoos or stamp-on eyebrows, to deal with patchiness or missing brows.
- People facing cancer often feel anxiety around hair loss. It’s normal and there are many support options available to those struggling with treatment side effects.
Doherty, who is fighting meastatic breast cancer (cancer that has spread to other areas of the body), sought the assistance of eyebrow expert Tiago Sampaio, who performs something called eyebrow micropigmentation. It’s a process similar to traditional tattooing, in which pigment is injected into the skin. Micropigmentation helps darkens and shape the eyebrows, and the finished product can last 12 to 18 months, according to Sampaio’s website.Read More
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“Since chemo, I have struggled with my eyebrows. As you can see, they were sparse and I am not the person that enjoys waking up and filling them in every morning,” the actress wrote. “I am beyond thrilled with @eyebrowking_ and the boost of confidence this gave me is priceless. You are the king Tiago. Much appreciation and love sent your way.”
Cancer Survivors Try Out TikTok Trends for Brows
TikTok is a treasure trove of women living with cancer sharing the beauty secrets that have worked for them. Popular TikToker Katie Fleenor, a 24-year-old with stage 3 breast cancer, gain a viral following while sharing some of her eyebrow woes, including a mishap when she tried on some temporary eyebrow tattoos. (It did not go well!)
@katie.fleenor ♬ original sound – Katie Fleenor
Katie did, fortunately, have some more luck in a later video by using stamp on eyebrows, which are applied using a stencil and dabbing on color to create the look of a full brow.
Coping With Hair Loss-Related Anxiety
When patients are going through chemo, hair loss can be a major stressor. Patients often feel like they shouldn’t be concerned about their appearance and should be more focused on their health, but it’s completely reasonable to feel anxious or worried about a drastic change to your appearance.
Dr. Samantha Boardman gives some tips for how those struggling with anxiety around hair loss can cope.
“For cancer patients, losing one’s hair can be unbelievably stressful,” psychologist Dr. Samantha Boardman explained to SurvivorNet in a previous conversation. “To start with, the threat of losing one’s hair can lead to some sleepless nights and feelings on anxiety. So, number one, it’s really important to talk to people — talk to people that have been through it, get their advice, voice your concerns to your caregiver about what you can do.”
Dr. Boardman added that there is a common misconception that only women worry about losing their hair, but men feel these anxieties as well — and should also feel comfortable talking to caregivers and/or doctors about body image concerns.
Feeling OK in Your Own Skin
Many survivors struggle with body image issues after undergoing cancer treatment. It’s important to know that you are not alone, there are resources (like mental health professionals or patient advocates) available if you need them, and many changes (like hair loss or changes to your skin) or only temporary.
Survivor Bianca Muniz, who was diagnosed with cancer for the first time when she was just 11 years old, said she really struggled initially with the changes cancer made to her body — especially since she is a singer and has always performed on stage.
Cancer survivor Bianca Muniz explains how she learned to feel comfortable in her own skin again.
“Once I started treatment, I started getting these really bad breakouts on my face, and then I would try to cover it up with makeup,” Muniz explained. “I tried all these different skin regimens to try to make it better, and I made it worse. And I’m a performer. I am on stage performing in front of people. So to have this so just in your face, everyone can see it, that was very hard for me to get over … It took a really long time for me to finally feel OK about it and accept that this is going to be there for a while.”
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