Finding Acceptance After a Mastectomy
Finding acceptance for your body after a lumpectomy or mastectomy may be the hardest thing you will ever face. The changes to your body are not just physical but emotionally impactful as well. It's now three years out from my diagnosis and I am still working on finding love and acceptance for my new body. Today I will share eight tips for body acceptance after cancer or preventative mastectomy.
Living Beyond Breast Cancer & Ana Ono
I have partnered with Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC) and AnaOno to bring this post to you. Both LBBC & AnaOno are dedicated to women's empowerment and feeling good in your skin after a cancer diagnosis or preventative surgery. We are excited to help you find new ways to love and embrace your body.
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1. Really Look at Your Body
It took me a long time to really look at my body following my breast cancer surgeries. I was scared to see the change and chemo changed me so much I barely recognized the woman in the mirror. With time, I began to really look at myself and see the results of all I had been through. It took truly facing the change and trauma in able to move forward.
2. Reflect on Your Resilience & Progress
Once I was able to truly face the pain and the changes to my body, I was able to take baby steps forward. I started writing about my sadness and the grief I had for my body. Through reflection, I was able to see the true depths of my resilience and the strength of my body. Highlighting my strengths helped me appreciate my body for all it got me through. I was able to begin focusing on my progress forward and all my body was able to do.
3. Focus on Living a Healthy Life
It is hard to move beyond the physical and focus on nurturing your body from within. As I gradually made this shift though my mental state began to change. I began eat better, exercise more and make more time for self-care. All of these lifestyle changes focused me inward and took away my constant fixation on my external physical changes. I began to fueled from within.
4. Change the Outfit Not Your Body
Following my surgeries I tried to fit into my old clothes and kept comparing myself to the old me. I had gained a lot of weight and my reconstructed breasts just did behave like normal breasts. It was discouraging and fueled my insecurity. I decided to pack away all of the clothes that didn't fit and get a few new items. Just this small change allowed me to let go of the old limitations I had set on myself.
Even three years later I am still learning ways dress for my new body. My AnaOno swimsuits are the perfect example. I used to love bikinis and now even though I can wear them, I just feel much more sexy in a one piece. I have changed the cuts and styles I wear to accentuate and flatter my body. The important part is finding intimates, outfits and swimwear that makes you feel good. Don't feel like you should force your new body into something you used to wear. You have changes and it's OK that you look different. You went through so much! Embrace it and rock a new look, something you never would have tried before.
5. Fake it Until You Believe It
Even as you take steps towards more acceptance, that inner critic may still be present. Don't let that vulnerability make you think that you are not making progress though. Insecurity is normal and may always be a part of your life in one way or another. The more you build yourself up with positive self-talk, love and kindness, the smaller that inner critic will become.
For a while, it may feel like you're faking it, just going through the motions. But with time, you will start to believe those corny sounding mantras. You are worthy of kindness and love. You are strong, you are beautiful and you will find acceptance in time. If you say it enough, these mantras will begin to impact the way you live and eventually you will believe them to be true.
6. See Yourself Through the Eyes of Someone Else
When all else fails, don't feel guilty to call on those around you for support. The people who surround you love you and see you through a different light. Hearing their words, or seeing their photos of you can help you step outside of yourself and see yourself through an unbiased lens. It's completely OK to need this reassurance and support from others. There is no medal for going it alone. Surround yourself with people who will shower you with kindness and help you see your inner beauty and strength.
7. Make Time for Self-Care
Self-care if not selfish it's essential. This quote may be overused but it's sooooo true. I notice on the weeks when I don't make time for self-care my insecurities begin to return and my self-doubt resurfaces. Self-care if more than bubble baths and massages, it's caring for yourself from within, facing the negative thoughts and resenting your intention. It's taking care of your mental and physical being and prioritizing yourself. Check out this post for my self-care menu and DIY shower bomb recipe.
8. Never Give Up
Finding love and acceptance for your new body will take time. Even three years later, there are weeks when I am filled with self-doubt and feel hatred for my body. In those dark moments, I remind myself it is OK to not be OK. Never give up on the process. There will be highs and lows but you are worth it. You are worthy of love and acceptance.
I hope these tips will help you find love and acceptance for your body. Know that whatever you are feeling right now is temporary. With time, your physical wounds will heal and you out dedicate the time and energy to healing yourself from within. You are worth the effort. Those around you are in awe of your strength and beauty. In time you will see it too. Never give up on yourself.
Surround Yourself with Inspirational People
All of the swimsuits shown in this post are from AnaOno designed by a breast cancer survivor for other women facing breast surgery and reconstruction. The swimsuits are so comfortable though, they are worn and loved by all women, not just cancer thrivers. Dana Donofree, the founder and designer, is an amazing women and the epitome of #girlboss. She inspires me to be the best most badass version of myself. I am so grateful for her friendship, the amazing opportunity to walk in her NYFW show in January and her constant support to chase my dreams.
Now is the perfect time to try one of these fantastic AnaOno swimsuits. You can get 20% off right now with the code SWIM20.