Join tens of thousands of cancer fighters, survivors, and supporters who understand. Why Join?

It's So Hard Not To Feel Like 'Damaged Goods' After Cancer

May 16th, 2018 |
Emotional Support

by Jacquileefreestone | Fighter: Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma    Connect

Cancer has affected my confidence unlike anything else ever could in my life. Being sick for a second, third and fourth time during my 20's and early 30's has given me so much social anxiety, as a result of isolation, living with a changed body from surgeries, physical weakness, and much more.

I used to be quite confident in my body - and fit. I modeled, I sang, I acted, and I was at ease with dating. The longer I have gone on with my treatments, the more I have felt like damaged goods. I marvel at other women's perfect scar-free, strong bodies and wish I could have my belly and neck back to the way they used to be. It’s just not a nice daily reminder when you look in the mirror each day. It feeds into so much in my life that now instead of feeling at ease on dates like I used to, I feel awkward and apologetic when meeting someone new, which was so unlike me previously. I just wish people could see the me before any of this touched my life.

Some people say they don't even notice my scars. But just as many other people point them I know they're visible. They aren't the only reason for my confidence issues. People always think cancer survivors must be proud or happy to have overcome so much, but they don’t understand the toll it takes on your body, your mind and your energy reserves - even if you can try smile through it most days.

I was cut off from an ex off mine after telling them about my third cancer. I was deleted from all social media and they wouldn’t even answer a call or text when I woke up from surgery. We had just broken up years after my second cancer but had always said we’d be close friends no matter what. How wrong that promise was to believe. This in itself has caused me such a damaged sense of self that it makes it difficult to feel confident anymore, or to think that anyone else could truly care on any real level about me. I feel like I've been left to die in a ditch basically. If after 7.5 years with someone who you thought was special could now just not care about your life being threatened, why would anyone else care? I know I'm better off than so many others, physically, after my cancer. Yet each one has taken out an invisible chunk of my self confidence, leaving me feeling quite broken and worn down.

Having gone through such a tough time doesn't make life easier. But it does make you appreciate openness and empathy more and it may make you appear to be a more upbeat, carefree person. Building my confidence back is a work in progress, but I’m determined to get there.

Sign up to join our community here to continue the conversation.

Want to blog with us ? Learn more here.

Jacquileefreestone's picture

The first time Jacqui heard the word cancer she was 7 years old, when her father was first diagnosed with Leukemia. He passed away after a 2 year long battle with his illness and then she got to experience her own first cancer just one month after his passing. She was 9 years old. Her first cancer was a Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, for which she had surgery and 6 months of chemotherapy to help her recover. After years in the clear she eventually developed a kidney cancer that is rare in adults (Wilm's Tumour) which led her to having a radical nephrectomy (kidney removal), 6 months of 3 chemo agents (27 cycles) and radiation. She eventually recovered from this but around 8 years later she was diagnosed with her 3rd cancer (Papillary Thyroid Carcinoma with Follicular variant). I underwent two surgeries and did a dose of radioactive iodine which didn't quite eradicate the cancer. I was re diagnosed with thyroid cancer 6 months later and underwent yet another surgery where they removed 30 nodes from her neck. She's still awaiting an all clear but she's doing much better than she has been in the past, so fingers crossed.