Let me start by saying that body image has always been an issue for me. I’ve owned one bikini in my entire life – and it only made one appearance during Spring Break in university, where I was probably too hung over to fully appreciate what I was doing! I have spent countless hours wishing that my pre-Spanx tummy would just miraculously stay that way without assistance from the wonders of spandex, and I am now far too familiar with every last little wrinkle that has taken up permanent residence on my face – without paying rent. Sadly, I know I’m not alone in this critical obsession with my body and all the things that it isn’t, wasn’t or perhaps never will be.
Over the past nine months, my body has definitely been put through the ringer – blood tests, mammograms, ultrasounds, chemo treatments, radiation, breast exams, nausea, sore muscles… poking, prodding… Trust me, we’ve done it all. If there was ever a “real” reason to hate my body, this should have been it – after all, my body allowed this tumour to form. It was the reason that all of this invasiveness occurred. It let me down.
Well, as I sit here being six weeks post-treatment (and cancer-free!), here’s what I’ve come to realize. My body is exceptional. It endured months of poking, prodding and poisoning. And it survived. I’m finished my treatments, the cancer is gone, and I’m still here. Here to hug and kiss my beautiful boy each and every day. Here to fall asleep with my husband’s arms around me every night. Here to share my story and thank everyone who was there for me. Here.
My body and I have started coming to an understanding. We’re working out together again. We’ve gone back to focusing on healthy eating again. We’re trying to get to normal energy levels again. We may not always see eye to eye on what we should be able to feel or accomplish, but we’re working on it. Together.
Why is it that we’re all so critical of our bodies and so quick to list its flaws? Maybe its time to start celebrating what our bodies ARE and not what they are NOT. I’m so proud of my body for surviving cancer. I’m proud that it’s allowed me to not only survive but to move forward and accomplish all of the things I want to do with my life. Besides, how can I stay mad at something that allowed me to create, carry and deliver the most amazing gift ever given to me almost nine years ago?
So can I triumphantly announce that I have moved beyond all of my body issues and insecurities? Nope. I still cringe when I’m forced to step on the scale at each doctor’s appointment. I still glare at the untoned mushiness that eight months on the couch has left me with. And I’m still hypersensitive to the stares in my direction – real or perceived – while I’m out sporting my “GI Jane” hairdo. But what I can say is that each of these insecurities are now grounded in and complemented by a new foundation of appreciation. My body may not always look the way I’d like it to but what’s important is that it’s there for me. Like a true friend. One that I need to celebrate and appreciate.
So in the spirit of appreciating “the new normal” and celebrating what “is” rather than what it “should be”, it’s time to step outside of my comfort zone and bare it all - no more hiding behind surgical gowns, baggy sweaters, wigs or scarves. I vow to be defined by things other than extra pounds, added wrinkles, or a lack of hair. I’m sure there will be days that are easier than others but I know it’s a journey… and I’m on my way. So ‘bare’ with me… ;)
P.S. Huge shout-out to the amazing Leah Kirin of Forever Moments for helping me "bare the baldness"!