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Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer CenterVanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center


Self Image and Self Esteem Concerns

Cancer, treatment, and their side effects can dramatically alter appearance. How you look might change temporarily (losing your hair or gaining weight due to chemotherapy, having redness or swelling due to radiation) or permanently (changes in body shape or appearance due to surgery). Our appearance is important to us, and how a treatment affects our appearance is a factor for many people when choosing a treatment.

Sometimes people dealing with cancer and its treatment find that they start to think of themselves differently as a result of changes in their body appearance or their self-image. People might start to see themselves as less attractive after cancer or surgery, even if other people wouldn’t agree. They might start to question whether their bodies work properly. Also, sometimes just the knowledge that a person has cancer can make them think about themselves and their bodies differently, like they can’t rely on their bodies or trust them anymore.

All of these reactions are common. However, if you find that the way you see yourself has changed significantly, and it keeps you from having the life you’d like, the Pain and Symptom Management Program offers services to address these concerns.