You're going through one of the most life-changing and traumatic experiences of your life. Your body is being attacked from the inside, and your outside is changing in new and sometimes scary ways. In these times of uncertainty, it's easy to let your self-esteem fall away. There are ways to keep up your spirit and self-esteem up, you just have to allow yourself the courage to care for yourself.
We are no strangers to seeing our patients and loved ones feeling defeated as they are working their way through cancer treatment, finding their footing after their treatments, and figuring out and finding their bodies again. Your self-esteem can be one of the first things that suffer during this difficult time and one of the last things that you're able to rebuild once you find your footing again. Negative experiences will automatically lower your self-esteem. It's easy to ask questions like, is there something wrong with me that made cancer pick me? Have I done something wrong? Did I make bad choices to make this happen to me? As we have talked about in so many of our other blogs, cancer chooses blindly. Just like in our previous blog, cancer doesn't see a beauty queen or someone fighting to prevent it. It just sees something to attack.
Pain, feeling sick, not having your normal amounts of energy, not being able to sleep or eat after or during treatments are all going to change the way you're living your life. You won't be able to do a lot of the things at the same time, as quickly, or as often as you used to during your treatment. That's okay. By no means should this change how you view yourself, how you impact others, and how you should be living your life. This will change your day to day, but it won't be changing who you are at the core. This whole experience may make you feel less feminine, less attractive, less sure of yourself and who you are now. But you are still all of these things. You are still beauty, feminine, grace, and a woman. This experience may change you and how you look, but all the parts of what makes you unique and what you fought for are still there. There is beauty in that, and you need to keep fighting for that.
When you get to this point in your journey of doubting yourself and you feel your self-esteem dropping, its time to start living a little differently. You might need to depend on more people than ever before, and asking for help. Losing your independence to help deal with everything is hard. You might think people are just seeing you as "the woman with breast cancer". But you are more than that. You are a woman who has breast cancer, yes. But it does not define you. This change might affect how you see your relationships, but in their eyes, they still see the person they love. It's common to feel anxious, sad, low and to have low self-esteem during this process. So don't beat yourself up for feeling these natural emotions. This can also cause you to pull away from your "normal" daily activities, seeing your friends, keeping up with your hobbies, and your work. But if you let the diagnosis win over the things you love in life, then what are you fighting for? Why would you let the diagnosis win and take away your time and quite possibly the only time you have left? You need to fight for you, for your self-esteem, and for the time you have before, during, and after treatment.
Getting out of bed and getting to your treatments and daily life activities is half the battle and will take a lot of energy to get through.
You've made it to this stage, and what now? Life and how you feel are still so much different. You've fought the battle, but what other invisible wounds do you need to patch up?
At the end of the day, keep remembering who you are, what makes you special, and celebrate that. There is nothing wrong with starting over, and there is nothing wrong with taking it at your speed. No one can make these choices for you, and no one defines your happiness. You've made the brave steps to be where you are today, be brave enough to celebrate today and every day you have.