When your self esteem takes a hit

One of the hardest part of a cancer diagnosis is the physical change in a person. For the most part, I’ve been emotionally ready for each physical difference a treatment or surgery has made to my appearance.

Last November, on the eve of my first chemotherapy treatment, I was fully aware that my hair would fall out within the next two weeks. I had on standby a bunch of hats I had knitted myself and a few head scarves that I had purchased. When the hair began to come out, I took the bull by the horns and shaved the rest of my hair off myself. As it turned out, the scarves looked pretty good on my very round head and my woolly hats came in handy on cold winter nights. I didn’t mind my bald self all that much and had fun with different colored scarves and coordinating make-up. So many people came up to me and would say “you don’t look sick at all.”

Now though I’ve gone through a different transformation. Last week I had surgery to remove all my breast tissue, both sides. Tissue expanders were implanted and will be slowly expanded over the next few weeks to form hopefully a small C cup breast. In the meantime, I’ve gone from a full C to almost nothing. And since I’ve always carried a bit of extra weight in my middle, I’m totally off balance. Add to the fact that my hair is growing back in what looks like a GRAY color and you have the perfect chemistry for bad body image 101.

I’ve literally gone from a curvy, full breasted, long curly haired women to someone I now don’t recognize. I’m looking for that boost I need to bring me back to feeling good about myself again. I may have found it.

While at the doctor’s office yesterday, my father started a conversation with one of the patients in the waiting room. She is a cancer survivor like myself, having been through the same treatments and surgeries as I have and is now ready for the second reconstruction surgery where the tissue expanders are replaced with breast implants. She then blurted out “I can’t wait for the tummy tuck ” and that’s when I found out that for an extra out of pocket fee, the plastic surgeon can perform a tummy tuck during the implant surgery.

All of a sudden I had images of myself, full breasted, flat tummy, chic new silver euro-hairstyle with a stylish wardrobe, all of which I can wear without a bra. My self image went from blah to smokin’ in a matter of seconds.

Next week, during my first expansion session, I will be meeting with my plastic surgeon to check on my post surgical body. I plan to inquire about the tummy tuck. Since I won’t have the second surgery until sometime mid-summer, I’ve got plenty of time to think about whether a tummy tuck is worth the money. Then again, with the worst year of my entire life almost behind me, maybe I owe it to myself to do something that will make me feel like a total woman again.

Cross posted at C is Not For Cookie

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6 Responses to When your self esteem takes a hit

  1. […] Read the original: When your self esteem takes a hit […]

  2. sprucehillfarm says:

    My hair came in white too. I think it is pretty common for that to happen! Keep smilin, In a couple weeks after they fill those expanders you will feel a little less off balance!

  3. laura says:

    good luck with your new looks – you sound very excited!

  4. emmy says:

    I had a TRAM Flap at the time of my mastectomy, so the description is a little different, but the effect is the same. After surgery, I felt like the bride of Frankenstein and my hair came back in corkscrew curley and white. Hair die fixed the color, and the curls have relaxed out over the past five years. I’m now more accepting of my scars and feel better about my body. My only caution is that when you talk with your surgeon, discuss the pain and scarring of a tummy tuck. You need to not only count the monitary cost, but the physical cost too.

  5. I found it interesting that you chose that particular picture from Picasso.

    I was in an art class (paper mache) for cancer survivors, and my friend (also a breast cancer survivor) chose that picture to copy for a 3D art project.

  6. clergygirl says:

    I just had the DIEP with a tummy tuck. It hurts like the dickens but I love the way I look with the tummy tuck! Go for it!

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