Fashion Tips for Women, Life After Cancer, Self-Care

Tips for Regaining Confidence After Great Change (Surgery, Cancer, Postpartum)

Confidence, it’s not something that just shows up overnight, it’s not something you can buy and throughout different stages of our lives it may grow or wane. As someone who spent many years lacking confidence and then faced many hurdles which threatened to destroy my newly build confidence, I want to share what has helped me build and regain confidence after cancer and postpartum.

In my teen, college and young adult years I was extremely insecure. I spent so much time looking to others for approval and validation that I never stopped look within. Being diagnosed with breast cancer and the subsequent loss of my hair, breasts and sense of femininity forced me to confront those long-standing insecurities and determine what I had left. 

You know what I found? Without the long hair that I loved, the large breasts, which I felt, made me a woman, I was still me. My life didn’t fall apart because my appearance changed. Yes I looked like a 12 year old boy boobless and bald, but when it was all stripped away I realized that I liked who was left. Sure she was facing a hard time and hurting, but the person I was with no hair, no boobs and nothing to lose was one badass woman. 

How to Build & Regain Confidence

Cancer didn’t break me, instead it gave me the biggest gift — the gift of believing in myself. I realized that if I didn’t speak up for myself, believe in my worth and have confidence in my ability to succeed no one else would. 

It was this realization that carried me through the hurdles that year and in the years to come. I realized that at my core I was worthy of love and kindness and when I believed it others did too. This paradigm shift did wonders for my confidence both physically and emotionally.

Now I won’t say that the desire to have validation from others just vanished, but realizing my own worth shifted my thinking on a larger scale. Little by little I found that seeing my worth started to impacted the way I interacted with others, my relationships and my job. The best part was, I wasn’t changing who I was, I was just letting everyone see a more authentic version of myself. It was honestly freeing!

With time my hair grew back, my breasts were reconstructed and I lost the chemo weight, but my mind never went back to how it was before.  Once you know your worth you can’t forget it. 

There are days, weeks and even months when my faith in myself falters. After my pregnancy losses, at times during my pregnancy and even now postpartum there are days when that negative self-talk returns, threatening to break the confidence I have built.  It’s during these difficult times that I return the foundation I have built and what I learned to be true in my darkest moments. 

Today I want to share my most important tips for building or regaining confidence after a hard time, a surgery or postpartum.

1. Remember, you are worthy and no one can take that away from you. 

Write that down, keep it on the wall, or set reminders in your phone whatever you need to remember that fact because it is essential to your confidence foundation.

How to Build & Regain Confidence

2. Surround yourself with people who lift you up.

I mentioned this one in my healthy living tips blog post as well and the truth is the people you surround yourself with truly impact your mind, your habits and your success. I am grateful to have an amazing group of girlfriends and a partner who cheer me on and make me feel amazing when I am down. This makes a huge difference when it comes to regaining your confidence

How to Build & Regain Confidence

3. Reflect on what your body has been through, and say “thank you”

Whether it’s a health issue, a surgery, or growing and birthing a baby – take a moment to stop and recognize how incredibly strong your body is. So many times we are so focused on recovery and moving on, we forget where we have been. Reflecting on those hard times will help you find greater appreciation and love for your body. Remember that body of yours is strong and amazing!

How to Build & Regain Confidence

4. Look at your body with loving eyes

So many times we hide from our bodies. We feel shame or embarrassment and we don’t want to look at the areas of our body we see as imperfections. But what if you looked at your body with different eyes. Eyes that believed every inch was beautiful and worth of love? How would what you feel be different. At each stage of my journey for the past 5 years I have taken pictures of my body. Not only does it help me see the power of what I have been through but it helps me have a great appreciation for all of my healing.

How to Build & Regain Confidence

5. Push through the discomfort

I am not going to lie to you and say building confidence and maintaining is easy. In fact, it’s really hard and takes constant diligence keep your thinking positive and supportive. Sometimes you will have to fake the confidence. You may not feel it but you should put on that sexy dress anyhow and tell yourself like you would a friend “you look amazing”. That’s what I had to do with this. I saw the dress and fell in love but when I put it on all I could see was the baby weight and extra fluff. Luckily I didn’t let those thoughts get me down because when I got my hair done, and put on this dress for our shoot I felt like a million bucks!

How to Build & Regain Confidence

6. Find new ways to connect with your body

After my mastectomy, and chemotherapy my body had changed. For a long time I longed for my “pre-cancer” body but with time I realized that even if I had that same body back, I had changed and it would never feel the same. I gave up on going back to what once was and instead went down a path of acceptance with my new body. Through exercise, healthy eating, hot yoga and more I was able to develop new connections with my body. Yes, it had changed, but I came to love it for all it had been through. I am trying to implement the same strategy now (postpartum). I am getting back into exercise, returning to healthy eating habits and slowly but surely that connection and the feelings of pride are returning.

How to Build & Regain Confidence

7. Take time for yourself

You are more than your illness, you are more than just a mom you are more than your challenges. Take time for yourself, do a little self-care, or get some pampering (hair, nails, massage, etc). It will do wonders for lifting your spirits, and helping you feel more whole. As women we are typically givers and the biggest lesson I have learned is that I cannot give when I am depleted. Self-care helps me recharge, feel more confident and be more energized to give to those around me.

How to Build Confidence

8. Find clothes that make you feel amazing

After chemo I had gained a lot of weight and was struggling to adjust to my new body and show myself patience for the weight loss. My husband encouraged me to buy a new new items in my current size and it did wonders for my confidence. I did this right after Mason was born and it lifted my spirits in the same way. Having clothes that fit and make me feel beautiful always helps me feel better. I put the tight clothes away (out of sight) and know I’ll be in them again soon!

How to Build & Regain Confidence

9. Show yourself grace

This is the last tip because while I hope the ideas above help you begin your confidence journey, I know it won’t happen over night. There will be bad days, and tears and sadness along the way and I want you to remember to show yourself kindness and grace. It’s OK to feel down and struggle. Take those emotions, sit with them and then find something from your reflection to carry you forward.

How to Build & Regain Confidence

No matter what you’re going through, remember that YOU are a badass and you’re doing an amazing job. Never forget that and know that I am here cheering you on throughout your confidence journey.

Photos: Anna Haddock |Edits: Me | Dress: YFB via Scout & Molly’s



    February 8, 2020Reply

    Thanks for sharing this!


      February 9, 2020Reply

      You are so welcome. Thank you for reading!


    March 5, 2020Reply

    Anna, you are a great person with a beautifull energy. Your blog is so well organised. I find it so inspiring and supportive, like a how to manual. You reach deep moments of cancer journey with a practical eye but having that emotional touch all the time. you are great, thank you for being. love and kisses!


      March 5, 2020Reply

      I am so glad to hear it has been helpful. Thank you for your support.

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