What is someone with Cancer meant to look like? 

So I am 30 something living with a Cancer diagnosis since April 2018. I currently in active curative treatment, praying super hard that I am going to receive the outcome the medical professionals and everyone around me seem so positive about. 

For over a year, I have been throwing around the idea of starting a blog, with a million ideas of things to write about, never really plucking up the courage to start one, I am not convinced that I want my blog to be about cancer, but since my diagnosis there have been a few things that have really struck a chord with me, and all seem to fit under the same umbrella of wellness. So I thought maybe my first post could be about that, so here goes … 

As I mentioned above I have been living with a cancer diagnosis since April of this year, and when I first got diagnosed I suffered a dramatic weight loss due to anxiety and stress. Now for quite a few years I have been a bit of a health and fitness advocate and spend most free evenings and Saturday mornings throwing myself around in one crazy class or another, whilst at home practising a pretty clean diet. So I was definitely not needing to lose weight, and to look at would have been described as a healthy weight. 

However with this weight loss the compliments came flooding in, how amazing I looked, what was my secret, what training was I doing? So, whilst I was seemingly the most ill I had ever been in my life, everyone around me was telling me how incredible I looked. This really gave me food for thought, about how society links thinness with wellness. I myself probably am guilty of this, being very quick to judge someone stuffing their face with a burger and thinking they probably have eaten one too many… or comparing myself to somebody thinner and leaner than me and thinking I wish I looked that, striving for the perfect bikini body. Now to the world I look like I have the perfect bikini body, even to myself with definition in my stomach that a year ago I would have given my right arm for. When now little did the people around me know, they were paying a body compliments that actually was not in the best shape and had something inside that had the potential to kill me. 

It has really made me think how far society still needs to move forward in our thinking around healthy body image. I am grateful that I am strong enough to realise that thinness doesn’t necessarily mean well and healthy, but how easily if I was in a different headspace, how dangerous these comments could be, and how easily this could lead to a slippery slope of skipping meals, dangerous calorie deficit and over training in the strive for perfection. So for now, I am trying to practice a bit more self-love, recognising how strong my body is, and to be proud of the fact, that I have so far remained healthy through my treatment and trying to shift my mind set on linking my thinness to my wellness. 

The second thing that has really struck a chord with me, was how was I supposed to look whilst living with cancer and going through chemotherapy. Before my diagnosis and from the minute I found out I would need chemotherapy, my mind was plagued with images of bald heads, sunken eyes, pale skin and sick people bedridden for months on end. Very early on I made a promise to myself that I would not be that person, I would do my best to be as glamorous as possible throughout this process and I would do the best I could to not be bedridden and sick. I am so thankful to say that so far I have been very healthy and have been very lucky to not be too badly affected by side effects. That aside I also decided to learn how to do my make up properly, I had a 1 on 1 lesson and invested in lots of the recommended make-up and spent hours upon hours on you tube researching headscarf tutorials, make up tutorials and wig styling tutorials. So loaded with my new make-up bag and hours upon hours of you tube tutorials I was ready to be too glam to give a damn. 

With all my new knowledge put into practice, I again was flooded with compliments about how amazing I looked, comments jokingly remarking I didn’t even look like I had cancer …. To which all of these I have been very flattered by, and have politely said “oh, thank you”. But also has led me to think should I look more ill than this? Am I making too much effort to hide being ill?  What are we all hiding behind our masks and persona? So more food for thought and how easily do we fall into the trap of judging someone as being well by the way they look? 

What I have learnt so far on this journey? Wellness is so much deeper than how I look, it is the support of my ever loving and giving family and friends around me, my active lifestyle and my huge cheering squad at the gym, my extremely understanding work place who have supported me from day one of my diagnosis, an amazing husband who is always there to pick me up when I am down and finally myself, to, how I think about myself, my mind-set for the day and my positive to attitude to life.

Thanks for reading

Helena x

I have added some links below which if you are in the same position as me, you will hopefully find helpful. www.michaelrobertswigs.co.uk





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