Self-image is how a person views himself or herself. Your self-image (body image) can change during treatment and/or surgery. Many people with cancer feel self-conscious about changes to their bodies and how much they have changed. It is important to speak with your health care team about your worries, fears and concerns about these changes. Many of these changes may resolve or get better as time passes after treatment but some may be a more permanent change. Your health care team will be able to guide you as to how to handle these changes, on ways to relieve symptoms and discuss how you may feel because of them.
Altered body image can include:
- changes to your appearance (e.g. from surgery)
- hair loss
- speech difficulties
- weight loss/gain
- bowel changes
- changes to your sex life and intimacy
- early menopause or infertility
Tips on how to cope with body image changes
- Allow time to adjust and accept body changes. Find out if they are temporary or permanent changes by talking with your health care team
- Share your worries and feelings about these changes with a close friend or family member.
- Talk with others who have been in similar situations e.g support groups.
- As much as possible, remain active. Physical activity can help people feel more energetic, and it may help you feel better during treatment. Social activities can also help you focus on something other than cancer.
- Make an appointment with a counseling. A professional can help you cope with and understand confusing feelings and deal with physical changes.
For information on support services and complimentary therapies that are available to you , check out www.surviveandthrive.ie/support-services-useful-resources.