Loving Your Body with Breast Cancer

What Lizzo (and others) teach us about loving our bodies is that body positivity and self-care are not just for your Sunday afternoon to-do list—especially while on your breast cancer journey. Learning to love your body today and throughout the changes during treatments are vital for your mental and physical health, quality of life, and overall well being.

Lizzo shares with her fans:

“Loving myself was the result of answering two things: Do you want to live? ‘Cause this is who you’re gonna be for the rest of your life. Or are you gonna just have a life of emptiness, self-hatred, and self-loathing? And I chose to live, so I had to accept myself.”

This empowering movement can be focused on overcoming body-shaming and promoting self-love while living through the battle of breast cancer.

“Breast cancer does not just affect our bodies, but it also affects how we view them,” says Florida Cancer Specialists Medical Oncologist Dr. Miguel Pelayo. “It is hard for some patients to accept the temporary variations that may come with treatment like hair loss and weight fluctuations. It is important to promote positive body image if you are starting to experience changes due to treatments. I ensure that I share with my patients that this is a journey with their minds and body. We are fighting today, for the better tomorrow.”

Below are some tips from Dr. Peyalo to help you reframe the feelings you have about your body during breast cancer treatment and beyond.

1. Stay Focused and Positive by Finding Your Support Team

It’s normal to feel down, and that’s OK. Always communicate any long-term feelings of depression to your medical providers, as they can help support you emotionally and physically throughout your treatment program.

During this time, remember that you are not alone. Feelings of sadness, hopelessness, or fear are extremely common. In fact, 1 in 8 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. Dr. Peyalo emphasized that this diagnosis is not your fault, and that breast cancer can occur by a combination of factors, from genetics, hormone exposure, or lifestyle.

Focus on the positive and know that your medical oncologist can provide information on local support groups and community meetups with other women experiencing the same challenges with their body and image changes. Know as well that you can reach out to your friends, family, or a mental health professional on days when you need an extra boost.

2. Show Your Body Love

Allow yourself to enjoy the simple pleasures in life, and don’t forget to thank your body for what it allows you to do today—and every day. Even if some days you’re able to do less than others.

You can still love your body while fighting the battle against breast cancer. Eating nourishing meals will give your body the nutrients it needs to fuel your recovery and act as preventive medicine.

Staying active can also have an impact on how you look and feel. It is important to get movement daily, whether it is gentle yoga or even just walking around the neighborhood. If you don’t have the energy to get out of the house, consider pulling up a Lizzo album and dancing in front of the mirror.

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, tell me what you see / It’s that, oh my God, it’s lookin’ heavenly” – ‘Scuse Me—Lizzo

3. Embrace a Healthy Self-Image

Body image has everything to do with love: if you are constantly shaming yourself about what you look like or if others will judge you, then there will never be enough time invested into self-care. Having a positive self-image comes in all shapes, sizes, and hair types.

The side effects of hair loss are something that Dr. Pelayo speaks to his patients about often, and it isn’t always just about losing hair—but often gaining something new.

Did you know that your medical oncologist can write you a prescription for a wig while you are undergoing treatments? If you’re not a fan of wigs, no problem. DigniCap® systems are also available to reduce the risk of hair loss.

“‘Cause I’m my own soulmate, I know how to love me.” Soulmate — Lizzo

4. Have Hope

Embrace the change—you’re fighting for tomorrow! You are experiencing all the side effects because treatments are helping your body fight an illness.

With so many medical advancements in oncology, treatments and medication are more effective than ever before. There’s a great chance you can be there for that next special event, the birth of a grandchild, or a great night out with the girls.

Embrace your body and all that it does for you. Lizzo teaches us to “go home tonight and look in the mirror and say, I love you, you are beautiful, and you can do anything.”

About Dr. Miguel Pelayo |https://flcancer.com/staff/miguel-pelayo-md/

Originally from Miami, FL, Dr. Pelayo has lived and studied in Florida most of his life. During his Internship and Residency at the University of South Florida/H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, was chosen consecutively as Internal Medicine Intern of the Year, Outstanding Resident, and Internal Medicine Resident of the Year. Board-certified in Internal Medicine, Hematology, and Medical Oncology, Dr. Pelayo is highly interested in research and has presented several case studies at research symposiums for Moffitt Cancer Center and MD Anderson Cancer Center. He is fluent in both English and Spanish.

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