Since my revision, I have felt like an underdeveloped school girl with low self-esteem. I have one breast that is twice the size and 3 inches lower than the other; this may seem like a silly thing, but for me it is unnatural.
Before breast cancer, my breasts were naturally almost perfectly symmetrical; at least that is what my surgeon told me. My entire life I have had an issue with things being asymmetrical; it literally drives me insane. Now that I have asymmetry permanently on my body it has caused me to feel very insecure.
Like that underdeveloped school girl, I now stuff my bra to make them the same size. If I don’t do that, then I wear a jacket that will cover that area. The impact this has taken on my psyche is awful; I now understand how people who suffer the types of trauma that change their appearance feel. When someone tells you “this doesn’t define you” it may come from a place of love, and maybe that is true. However, even if it does not define you it does change you.
One day, I was driving my oldest son to karate and I realized that I did not have a jacket on. For the reasons previously stated, I was not at all comfortable with that. Again it may not seem like a big deal, but because of the impact the revision has had on my self esteem it is a huge deal to me. I am very self conscious about it.
We arrived at the dojo I told Nolan that I was going to wait in the car while he attended class. He asked me why and I was honest with him. I told him that I am disfigured and didn’t want people to see me like this. He opened the door and got out. Before he left he popped his head back in and said to me, “mom, you are only disfigured if you think you are disfigured.” Wait, what? That profound statement came from my son? What a smart kid I have!
That whole hour I just sat in my car pondering what he said. When karate finished, he got in the car. I said to him, “son, you made a very profound statement to me and it really made me think. I will likely still see myself as disfigured for now, but I want to thank you for what you said.” He said thank you and we headed home.
It is these small moments that carry so much weight. That statement is with me every day. Eventually, I know that that statement is what will lift me out of this thought process. One day it will click and I will begin to see myself in a different light instead of being disfigured. For now, I just have to work through all of my emotions so I have the ability to be okay with my physical self.
Thank you son for your profound words and encouragement!
Self-Esteem After Breast Cancer
Recently, I came across an article about ways to boost your self-esteem post breast cancer. Having difficulty in this area myself I was definitely intrigued. After reading it I found two that I know I definitely struggle with right now. One is being compassionate to yourself and the other is about not comparing yourself to others OR to yourself pre breast cancer. Talk about a WOAH moment.
When it comes to self-compassion they make sure to define a line between compassion and indulgence. We all have that inner critic, and it can be really harsh. But when we are dealing with low self-esteem due to a traumatic event, the harshness can be downright damaging. In those moments where you start to hear your inner critic, take a moment to pull yourself aside and ask “what would you tell a friend going through this?” Treating yourself as a friend is your greatest defense in combating hypercritical self chatter.
When it comes to not comparing yourself to others, well we live in a world of comparison. With social media, we get all of these snapshots of the pieces of other people’s lives and think to ourselves “man I wish that was my life.” All the while, not thinking about all the crazy going on behind the scenes. It is easy to get lost in that train of thought. However, going through the lows in self-esteem from breast cancer we tend to fall into another type of comparison: ourselves pre breast cancer. Talk about damaging. Looking back on our life before and realizing how different and frustrating life has become with the big black hole that is cancer staring us in the face.
Finding a New Way
During and after the fight with cancer, our lives take a major turn and we cannot do many of the things that we used to. For me, this has been a difficult challenge to overcome. I now am unable to do some of my favorite hobbies in the way I use to enjoy them. I also find difficulty in enjoying quality time with my kids. Physical pain, exhaustion, and limited mobility have made doing things in my day to day more difficult. I have come to recognize all of the negative aspects and am trying to find new ways to enjoy and accomplish things in my everyday life. What are your struggles?
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