Self-confidence; a feeling of trust in one’s abilities, qualities and judgement. Something most women have issues with in everyday life in general. Add cancer into the mix and the concoction can be devastating.
My self-confidence took a huge hit after I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 29. It was a whirlwind of doctors’ appointments, preparations and wig shopping. I started treatment immediately and the reality only began to sink in after I had completed my first red devil chemo and my scalp became sensitive. I was going to lose my hair and I was devastated.
I had always had “mermaid” hair. It flowed down my back and had always been my crowning jewel. I decided to shave my hair before it started to fall out in chunks, I felt like it made me more in charge of my destiny. My adoring husband shaved his head first and then we started on mine. We first cut it into all sorts of funky styles (very quickly realising that my husband is no hairdresser and should NEVER quit his day job☺). We made it an enjoyable and memorable experience that I will always cherish.
Fast forward a couple months, I had my double mastectomy. I now had patchy grey hair on my head, no eyelashes or eyebrows and I was significantly heavier (thanks chemo and steroids). I had never felt uglier in my life. I couldn’t bear to look at myself in the mirror, my self-esteem was at an all-time zero. Even with reassurances from my hubby that I was still beautiful I didn’t feel it. I hid behind my wig and make up. I just wanted to be “normal” again.
I started having my fills and slowly my hair started to grow back. I ditched the wig and decided to rock my pixie cut. I started to feel like each and every one of these little achievements was one step closer to being the old me again. Little did I know I would never ever be the same me again, and that’s the best thing that has ever happened to me. I started exercising properly again and could feel my self-confidence rising with every little change I saw in my body or new hair that popped up somewhere.
The gift I have taken from this experience is that now I feel more beautiful than I ever did pre-cancer. Self-confidence is so much more than just loving your physical attributes, it’s about believing in yourself and being proud of what you have achieved. I appreciate my body so much for what it went through to keep me alive, it is a source of strength, imperfections and all, and that to me is beautiful. I appreciate every single eyelash and eyebrow hair, because I know what it’s like not to have them. I appreciate my will to live, my positivity I try to keep throughout this journey and the fact that I am a fighter. To all my Pink Sisters, always remember that no matter what life throws at us, we can handle anything, with a huge smile on our faces and the belief in ourselves that we are amazing and nothing will beat us.