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From Broken to Beautiful

September 4th, 2012 |

by tambre | Supporter: Hodgkin's Lymphoma    Connect

Like a glass that breaks into pieces when it hits the ground, a cancer diagnosis can shatter lives. But what is it that has many survivors feeling like they're broken after treatment? It's time to move toward feeling whole again and go...

"...Screw Hope" got this conversation started...

It was so powerful to read the comments on that blog post. Anytime I Had Cancer readers are inspired to reach out, connect and communicate, change is underway and healing can occur. When one person shares their challenge or pain, others feel less alone. So, first let's applaud those who took the courageous step of sharing their experience of feeling broken. Thank you, you are beautiful!

You are not broken.

There are many people in your world who would be happy to tell you, you are not broken. However, each person, on their own, must pick up the pieces and embrace their inner beauty, scars and all, whether they are physical or emotional, visible or unseen. Others can show compassion as you heal from your pain but you must do the self-work.

Four Stages to Embracing Your Beauty

It's all about the hard/easy, a concept I often explore with my clients. Four stages sounds pretty easy. But let's get real. They may be straightforward concepts, simple words and you most likely have explored them in other life experiences. However, applying them in what may be the biggest arena ever can be hard. It requires effort and practice along with some patience and self-compassion as you redefine your inner relationship with you.

1. Letting Go
When things change and people face the unknown there may be fear, self-doubt or rabid "trying to figure it out" that occurs. As a cancer coach, I see many parts of peoples' lives impacted by the experience. Even at the point of diagnosis, the earliest part of the cancer continuum, there is often significant concern over what might be lost. This kind of thinking is fertile ground for grief. Some things simply will never be the same. This may include your:


  • physical body
  • relationships
  • finances
  • education
  • work or career
  • goals and dreams
  • anything else you feel you've lost


The first step toward reconnecting with your inner beauty is to allow yourself to grieve and let go of what you feel you've lost. It is impossible to move forward into a future of possibility when you're hanging onto despair.

Each person must design their own process. Make a list of everything you feel the need to let go of and then, one by one or all at once, create a ritual, process or experience that will leave you feeling lighter and more open to a future filled with more "I now am __________" versus "I used to be ___________".

2. Accepting the Now There is incredible truth in the statement 'what we resist, persists'. When we can't change the situation or circumstance, there are two options:

    • 1. Hold onto the pain of the past
    • 2. Accept that this is what is, and decide how you will make the most of it.

3. Redefining Yourself You've walked through the fire of treatment and on into long-term survivorship. Subjecting metal to the hottest flame, then shaping it into the sharpest blade able to withstand incredible blows makes the strongest sword. When you choose acceptance you have the opportunity to redefine who you want to be. So, who do you want to be?

4. Rediscovering StrengthAcknowledge the strengths you've built as a result of your experience. Write them down. Because of cancer, I am _____________. These strengths are a big part of who you are now. Most survivors find they tapped into one or more parts of themselves to survive, such as:


  • strength
  • courage
  • relationships
  • the ability to fight
  • making intelligent choices
  • learning to ask for help
  • prioritizing
  • taking things one day at a time


How can someone who has done this not be beautiful? Beauty is not about what you look like...it is about who you are. And cancer survivors are simply are BEAUTIFUL!

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tambre's picture
Tambre Leighn, MA, CPC, ELI-MP is a certified professional coach and founder of Well Beyond Ordinary, who helps cancer survivors and caregivers find the energy to go from surviving to thriving and beyond. Her personal experience caregiving for her late husband inspired Tambre to become a coach, a Stakeholder for the American Cancer Society’s Peer Grant Review Committee, a leading health advocate and blogger, and to co-create Well Beyond This, a coaching based online program for cancer survivors to help them thrive with, through, and beyond cancer. Read more about her story here.