Cancer and its treatments can cause major appearance changes. Many patients are already feeling bad, but these damaging effects can often affect their self-confidence. Although it’s completely common and acceptable to be upset about these changes, you don’t have to let them get you down. When you adapt your style to your condition, take care of yourself, and get support and encouragement, you can feel better about your appearance while fighting cancer.
Adapting Your Personal Style
1Wear a wig. The effects of chemotherapy cause a variety of negative physical symptoms, including hair loss. To cope with this drastic physical change, some people with cancer choose to wear wigs. The wigs allow them to feel more like their old selves.
- If you find that the wigs are scratchy on your head, opt for a light hat. Additionally, some companies offer baseball hats with hair sewn into the bottom, so that it looks like you’re wearing a hat over long hair, and you don’t have to feel the itchy effects of the hair.
2Use a prosthesis. Doctors may remove body parts to eliminate the source of the cancer. Obviously, this is a huge change for anyone. Wearing a prosthesis can help you feel better about your physical appearance, as well as possibly help you lead a similar life to what you led before.
- For instance, a prosthetic leg may help you to be able to walk or even run again. Women with breast cancer can use prosthetic bras to help them feel more comfortable with their appearances. Ask your doctor for information about how to obtain these pieces.
3Wear camouflage makeup. Some cancer and cancer surgeries can leave a person with scarring that can affect their self-esteem. It may also cause changes to their skin tone and overall complexion. Typical makeup may help to cover minor skin changes and scars, but you may require a heavier-duty product, like camouflage makeup. This type of makeup offers more coverage that could help you become more comfortable with your new appearance.
- Ask your doctor about obtaining prescription camouflage makeup. Your doctor may also be able to offer advice on how to best apply the makeup.
4Play around with your clothing style. People with cancer who are undergoing treatment usually aren’t particularly active. Additionally, any steroids they take may cause weight gain. If you can’t exercise to lose or keep the weight off, consider wearing bigger clothing that may hide what you feel uncomfortable about. Wearing looser clothing may also help if your skin is feeling extra sensitive because of the medications and treatment.
- However, you may find that you feel more uncomfortable wearing clothing that is too big. Donning clothes that fit properly could make you feel better about yourself. The bottom line is you should do what makes you feel best about yourself, both physically and mentally.
5Accentuate your style. You may find that wearing accessories helps you feel better about your appearance. Wearing earrings, scarves, and necklaces can help women play up their femininity, as can wearing makeup and using it to create the appearance of eyebrows, if yours are gone. You may find that taking these small steps can make a huge difference in how you feel about yourself.
- If your fingernails are fragile because of the cancer or treatment, try using oil to keep them protected and from breaking. Additionally, use dark nail polish if you find that the treatments are making your nails look discolored. Glitter-based polish can also help to hide ridges.
6Be proud of yourself despite changes. Fighting cancer is a hard battle. You shouldn’t have to add to that by being self-conscious about your appearance. If you choose to use makeup and supplies, that’s your choice. But, don’t feel like you have to hide or be ashamed of physical changes caused by cancer. Do what’s right for you.
1Get involved in cancer awareness events in your area. Participating in cancer awareness events in your area can help to put a positive spin your situation, connect you with other people who have had similar experiences, and give you an opportunity to raise money for a good cause. Some events you could participate in include:
- Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure
- Zumbathon for Breast Cancer
- Power In Pink Breast Cancer Awareness Walk
2Participate in a photo session. If you’re unhappy with your appearance, you may not be interested in photographing yourself. You may find, however, that being the star of a photo shoot is empowering. Looking at yourself in this light may help you focus on how strong you are and how much this journey has taught you, instead of your illness.
- Look into non-profit photographers in your area who specialize in taking these types of photos.
- If you are not interested in having photos taken of yourself, then you might consider looking at photo books of other women who have done this and reading their stories. Or you can look into other types of books on people’s experiences with cancer to get a more intimate perspective.
3Join a support group. Knowing you’re not alone in this fight and that there are others who are going through the same changes you are may help you feel better. Speaking with those who have the same issues with their appearances may offer you encouragement and insight. You may also get tips on how to make the most of the items that can improve the way you look.
- If you don’t feel well enough to attend a support group, look for one that meets online. You can still receive the same amount of support; you just don’t have to leave your house to do so.
4Talk to a therapist. Living with cancer is often extremely difficult because of the way it makes you feel. Dealing with changes to your appearance can make it even worse. Talking to a therapist about what you are experiencing and what these physical changes are doing to your mindset could improve your self-esteem and the way you regard yourself.
- To get the most out of your sessions, look for a therapist who specializes in treating cancer patients.
5Reach out to loved ones for support. The people in your life are probably in awe of your strength while treating your cancer. Surround yourself with positive people who will make you feel good about yourself.
- In addition, share with your loved ones some of your concerns. Many family members and friends of cancer patients are willing to do anything to make their loved ones feel less isolated. They may shave their heads or take other actions to show their support for you.
- Let your loved ones know what you need in terms of support. They are probably happy to help in any way they can.
Taking Care of Yourself
1Eat as best you can. You can feel better about your outward appearance when you feel good on the inside. You can do this by trying to maintain a healthy diet. Filling yourself with junk food may be a source of emotional comfort for you, but the way you feel afterwards will likely only discourage you. Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet and you may find that it gives you a boost in how you feel.
- Talk to your doctor about what diet would work best for you. Additionally, they may also be able to prescribe supplements and vitamins that can help you feel better.
2Find ways to manage stress. Keeping your stress levels under control is important for your overall well-being. To manage your stress, ask other people for help when you need it and set aside some time every day that is just for relaxing. Some relaxation techniques you could try include:
3Get massages. Massage has a variety of both physical and emotional benefits. This type of healing touch can help you relax and possibly reduce the anxiety and stress you may feel because of your cancer. It may also help sore areas of your body feel better.
- For example, therapeutic massage can help your muscles to heal after surgery. It may also prevent adhesions in those who undergo mastectomies, which can occur when tissue sticks to the chest wall.
4Rest as much as you can. Your body is going through major changes right now and is enduring a lot. Rather than trying to keep up your typical schedule, give yourself time to rest. The more fatigued you are, the worse you will feel and look. Ensuring that you get some good rest can help your body and your mind.
5Exercise when you can. You may feel that you are too fatigued to get out and exercise, but the act may actually help you feel more alive. Even something as simple as walking around the block can help you to feel better. You may be able to gradually increase the amount of exercise you can tolerate, and you will likely be pleased with how you look and feel.
- Try not to overexert yourself, especially when you are first beginning to exercise. You may also want to take someone with you, just in case you feel uneasy about exercising.