Accepting Your Body as a Survivor
- Demi Lovato recently shared a touching quote about appreciating yourself for more than just your physical appearance: “You are not your body, you are the warmth people feel.”
- Lovato has been on a journey of body acceptance and hopes to encourage others to look at their bodies in a more positive light.
- Her message can likely bring inspiration to cancer survivors as they experience body changes.
- One breast cancer survivor told us her cancer journey allowed her to see that "femininity is a state of mind” and not tied to her physical body.
- Dr. Marianna Strongin, a New York-based licensed clinical psychologist, suggests survivors spend time in front of the mirror and looking at the parts of their body most affected by cancer, which can help develop a new relationship with your new body.
The “Cool for the Summer” singer has never shied away from difficult topics. In the past, she’s opened up about her struggles with addiction, eating disorders, mental health and body acceptance.Read More
View this post on Instagram
“I am more than the shell for my soul that is my body and everyday I fight to remind myself of that,” she wrote on Instagram.
Moreover, at the 2019 Teen Vogue Summit, Lovato talked about the way she views her body and what she does to acknowledge negative feelings while still building an appreciation for everything it has done for her.
"We hear the term 'body positivity' all the time," she said. "To be honest, I don't always feel positive about my body. Sometimes I do not like what I see. I don't sit there and dwell on it. I also don't lie to myself.
"I don't have to lie to myself and tell myself I have an amazing body… All I have to say is, 'I'm healthy.' In that statement, I express gratitude. I am grateful for my strength and things I can do with my body. I am saying I'm healthy and I accept the way my body is today without changing anything."
How Demi Lovato’s Message Can Serve as Inspiration for Cancer Survivors
Demi Lovato’s message of appreciating your body no matter what it looks like is a powerful one. And it’s a message that can likely resonate with many cancer survivors out there who’ve struggled with body image after treatment.
Take celebrity stylist Ann Caruso, for instance. After having 12 surgeries to treat her breast cancer, she was having a hard time watching her body endure so much change.
"You're not the same carefree person that you once were, and it was very hard for me to look at myself every day," Caruso told SurvivorNet.
"It was like I was a totally different person and didn't fit into any of my clothes for so long."
Thankfully, time helped her heal both the physical and mental wounds. Now on the other side of her cancer journey, Caruso has a fresh perspective on femininity and body image.
"Femininity is a state of mind," she said. "And I think that's something that we have to remind ourselves."
Similar to Caruso, breast cancer survivor Jaclyn Kaczynski also struggled with body image after her diagnosis arrived at 37.
"My confidence was gone," she said. "My confidence was destroyed. I was always vain about my appearance and my weight, let alone losing a breast, or both."
While some people feel empowered by going "flat" after losing their breasts to the disease, others feel more confident after reconstruction.
There is no right or wrong answer, but Kaczynski found that reconstruction helped her see her body in a kinder light.
"I just had my reconstructive surgery," she explained. "My favorite doctor was able to make it happen for me.
"It's amazing how much more confidence I have within the past three weeks."
Coping With Your New Body as a Survivor
“Your body has changed and represents this difficult chapter in your life and simply accepting all of that is far too simple.
She suggests you sit with your body in front of the mirror and spend time looking at the parts you truly love.
“Give them time, honor them and then thank them,” Strongin says.
Then spend time looking at the part (or parts) of your body that has been impacted by cancer, such as your chest where your breasts have been removed, or your head where there is no longer hair.
“At first you may experience a flood of emotions this is expected and normal. As you allow yourself to spend more time looking at all of you, you will begin having a new relationship with your body.
“It may not happen immediately, but with time you can begin honoring and thanking that part of your body by creating a more accepting relationship with yourself,” Strongin explains.
Body image is about both the mental picture you have and how you feel when you look in the mirror, she says.
“Therefore, it is important that you create a ritual and practice that allows you to better accept your cancer journey both emotionally and physically.”
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
If you’re experiencing physical changes during your cancer journey, here are some questions you can consider asking your doctor:
- I am experiencing certain bodily changes. What exactly is causing them?
- Are there ways to manage or minimize these changes?
- I’m struggling to cope with the changes to my body. Is there someone I can talk to about it?
- Is there a social worker here who can help connect me with a therapist?
- What resources are available to help me find a local support group?