Body Image

Cancer triggers a huge number of upheavals in the body, both physical and emotional. These are stressful to deal with alongside the impacts of different cancer treatments and the strength required for recovery. The physical symptoms of cancer may well force changes on the body. This may affect how a sufferer perceives their body, reducing self-confidence and self-esteem and resulting in body image issues.

Some of the physical changes, such as weight loss and hair loss, are temporary, whilst procedures such as amputations, mastectomies or colostomy leave permanent scars. Both types of change can affect the way a person feels about their body, or the attitudes they feel other people may have about them. Dealing with the perceptions, judgements and responses of other people may be challenging. The judgements and assumptions that become self-imposed or are projected unfairly on to others feel very real and are very upsetting for the person involved. If the physical change prevents previously regular activities, it may come to be a symbol of the fact that life will never be the same again and a catalyst for depression and anxiety.

It is not unusual for cancer survivors who have suffered no actual physical change to suffer from body image issues. This may derive from beliefs that people who haven’t had cancer won’t be able to understand or connect with them anymore.

Checklist

  • You are reluctant to let other people see you –this may extend to fear of leaving the house.
  • You find being intimate difficult
  • You are ashamed of your body – because of scars or weight gain.
  • You are unhappy with who you feel you are now.

HOW WEIGHTMATTERS CAN HELP

DOCTOR

Our doctor can offer advice on treatments to alleviate the temporary changes, offer support for anxiety or depression, or make referrals where necessary

DIETICIAN

Our dietician will devise a balanced and nutritious diet plan to help the patient return to optimum health, improve the way you feel and reduce any symptoms of depression or anxiety

INDIVIDUAL THERAPY

Our therapists will work with you come to terms with your changing body, support you in adjusting your self-perception, and finding new ways of relating to others following your experience