Many cancer treatments bring unwanted side effects that can result in physical changes to your body. In addition to the loss of a breast, breasts, or part of a breast, you may also find yourself having to contend with weight gain or loss, hair loss and/or scars.
Body image is important to our emotional wellbeing. The changes to your body can make you feel less attractive and you may find that you lose some confidence in yourself. If this happens to you, you are not alone. It is an experience shared by many women who have treatment for breast cancer.
"At first, because of the big change in my body, I felt very unsexy. I had only one breast and had put on weight. It certainly does something to your self-esteem." -- Louise
Many women have told us they grieve for their lost breast/s and their old body. While some women adjust quickly to their new bodies, others find it hard to come to terms with the changes. Some feel they are 'not quite whole' without two breasts, and using breast prostheses or having a breast reconstruction is really important. For others having a breast shape is not so important. Everyone is different, and adjusting to these changes can take time.
"After I had bilateral mastectomies I did not go for implants/reconstruction or prostheses. I was happy to just be me, so I bought really nice camisole tops." -- Ann
- Include some exercise in your week -- studies have found that women who exercise regularly have better body image and higher self-esteem. The Exercise & staying fit page includes tips on exercising during and after breast cancer treatment.
- Wear clothes that make you feel good.
- Be kind to yourself - accept that your treatment will result in changes to your body.
- Try examining your 'new' body in the mirror and encourage yourself to be comfortable with it.
- Talk to your GP, Breast Care Nurse or a psychologist if you are having trouble coming to terms with the changes to your body.
Body image and sex
We know that for some women, body image may also be very important when it comes to feeling sexy and interested in sex. Our Sexual Wellbeing page has more information on this topic. You may also like to order a copy of our Breast Cancer and Sexual Wellbeing booklet.
- The Sexual wellbeing page has more information on body image and sexuality.
- The Exercise & staying fit page provides more information on how exercise can help you manage side effects of treatment and help to reduce anxiety, stress and depression.
- The Breast Prostheses page has information on breast prostheses.
- The Breast Reconstruction page has information on breast reconstruction.