• What has your cancer made you realize about vanity and your looks?

    Asked by Ydnar2xer on Friday, September 28, 2012

    What has your cancer made you realize about vanity and your looks?

    When 90% of the county examined my breasts (or so it seemed) the first time I had cancer, and now that most of my friends know that they're gone, I am convinced that breasts are highly overrated! Come to think of it, a LOT of attributes considered "attractive" by many--are highly overrated!

    Cancer is teaching me (and I'm a slow learner!) that your "REAL" friends (bosom buddies?) will always love you for being you and not be that concerned with what you look like. With social media telling us we need to look and dress a certain way--(To get a nose job, for heaven's sake, there's a wrinkle, where's the botox? OMG cellulite! YIKES!) It is extremely validating to learn this, especially as I've gained weight, am growing older and am now less than 2 weeks from complete hair loss...It is humbling to stop looking like "me", but oh, so powerful to know I still have the love, support and respect of friends and family, no matter how I look.

    What has cancer taught you on this subject?

    19 Answers from the Community

    19 answers
    • Peroll's Avatar

      I have always thought of myself as not very attractive (my wife disagrees) so the changes cancer has brought on many issues about my vanity. Though I did used to have nice thick hair that is now mostly gone and I have just shaved it all off since it was falling out. I don't think that chemo caused all of the hair loss as there is a family history of baldness on the sides of both my parents ( though I do kid my dad that he is responsible). What I am most vain about is my beard, which I have had since I was 17 and has not been shaved since then. I do agree that cancer does do some weird thing to some of your friends. The different reactions are kind of interesting and fun to watch. In my case, other than my hair loss I do not look any different or sick and get a lot of comments about how I do not look sick. I have to admit that I probably do not look sick too most people, but I guess I do not feel as good as I look if I can believe them. I can see a lot of people trying not to have the look of "gee I'm glad it's him and not me." I really do not blame anyone for feeling that way, I think it is normal and wish I could feel that way myself. I guess I am more vain about my feelings than my looks. That may be a difference between men and women, but if cancer teaches us a little humility then maybe something good is coming out of cancer.

      about 6 years ago
    • lynn1950's Avatar

      I was going to type that I am as vain as always.... and then I read your post. We had a puppy. She was so cute. Then she and a neighbor dog killed 50 chickens and our neighbor shot his dog and was ready to shoot her. We tried to find a good home for her; my daughter and I even sat outside our little rural post office with our pup and a sign, but no one wanted her. So home she came and we bought an electric fence. The years passed and our cute puppy got old and fat and fur matted and stinky. But she always had soulful chocolate eyes and a certain way of tipping her head that made her silky ears hang down just so. She died, age 12, two years ago and I will always love her. I still wish I wasn't flat as a bumpity pancake.

      about 6 years ago
    • GregP_WN's Avatar

      The first time my hair fell out, it just fell out in the back of my head, looked a little strange, but I didn't care. My young nephew 10 years old, hated that people were looking at me and pointing. So one night I gave him a marker and had him draw a smiley face on the back of my head. That made him feel better.

      about 6 years ago
    • BuckeyeShelby's Avatar

      I just started chemo yesterday, but I know I'll be upset when my hair goes. I've always used my hair as my shield. I'm a big girl and my hair has always been my best feature. I know those who know and love me won't care if I'm just stubbly for a while. But I also know myself enough to know I won't be happy. Although when I did my Locks of Love donation back at the beginning of August, I wasn't sure if I'd be okay w/short hair, but I was. So maybe I'll surprise myself.

      about 6 years ago
    • princess123's Avatar

      I do know I am somewhat vain. I do feel freakish due to the hair loss, eyebrow and eyelash loss. I did have long thick hair and long dark lashes. My hair and my eyes were always the things I got complements on and now they are gone. To me it was and still is humiliating. I wish I could feel different about it, but can't seem to get past it.

      about 6 years ago
    • SueRae1's Avatar

      I am vain and lazy, an interesting combo. As I mentioned yesterday, I have come to terms, at least for myself that hair and hair coloring is highly overrated. I take care for myself, I eat clean, do Pilates, yoga and mediation. get regular massage and energy work. I have finally found oils and cream which help my skin and scalp retain moister and look good. I get dressed every morning. I highlight my skin and coloring by my choice in what I wear, which always includes outrageous and other statement jewlery. Is this vanity, or taking care of my inner and outer self?

      I have lost some friends, mostly because, they don't understand what time and emotional suck having cancer is. they don't understand why I don't call them more often, see them more often, etc. On the other hand I have friends who call regularly just to make sure I haven't fallen off the earth. And make active plans to work around my schedule and energy to see me regularly.

      about 6 years ago
    • Heather's Avatar

      Yes, cancer has taught me who my "REAL" friends are!!! Some who I thought were like sisters, have totally backed away. It breaks my heart that 1st I have cancer and 2nd that my 'sister' backed away.
      I've never been vain but after my surgery (and with my expanders in) I call myself Frankenstein. I have scars from the port too and a bald head. Since Halloween is coming up, maybe I should just "GO WITH IT"??

      about 6 years ago
    • debco148's Avatar

      Great question! Boy, I had so much trouble emotionally when I found out I had to have a mastectomy until right before surgery and I realized .. I just wanted this bad stuff out! Changed my perspective. Then when they found one bad node and I found out I needed chemo, I was more upset than I was about losing my breast. My hair is just growing back now and today was the first day I went out in public without a scarf or wig.. my gym friends told me how beautiful I was and how I inpsired them. My fiance keeps telling me I look sexy.. I am not sure I buy it all yet, but one thing I do know is that my perspective is different. I feel good now, no more chemo fog (done in July) and I feel ike I've won a battle.. and strong! Guess what.. I never realized how loved I was! Wow.. I've gained all this knowledge, perspective, humor and only lost a boob! Hair grows back and no one ever knows when I wear a wig.. plus the wig never frizzes like my hair did. Only thing I can't wait to do is cover up the gray again, then I'm sporting a cute spikey hairdo for a while! The real beauty in life is the love you give and the love you get! God Bless and I wish my friends here.. love and light!

      about 6 years ago
    • Jennew's Avatar

      I know exactly how you all feel. I too am vain. I have been depressed because of how I look now compared to before Breast cancer. I wore my golden color hair long, wore makeup, never leaving the house without it. Always got comlements on my hair, and green eyes. I have large breast ever since high school. Now my breast are scared and uneven, I have a scar where my port is on my chest, my hair, eyelashes, and eyebrows are gone. I look like a old turtle. I have bad side effects from chemo. My eyes water constantly so I can't wear makeup. I have blocked tear ducts. My skin is peeling on my face, my hands and nails hurt. Even my Toes and toenails are painful and swollen. Can't walk far. I feel 90 years old. I can't go anywhere without people looking at me strange. I feel like a freak. I am very depressed. I want to get back to work my how? With a bag over my head. Wish this never happened. Cancer Sucks

      about 6 years ago
    • Tania's Avatar

      Hi Ydnar2xer,
      I am a breast cancer survior of 3 years and Cancer taught me sooooo much. All I care about now is that I am happy with what I have and I embrace what GOD gave me. I have life and that's all I want we are all Beautiful in side.

      Hugs, Tania from Miami, Florida

      about 6 years ago
    • diane123's Avatar

      My self image was low due to an abusive marriage of 20 years (I left one year before my diagnosis). I was slowly getting my self-respect back and I received my diagnosis. I almost did not have reconstructive surgery, but then I changed my mind. I went even further to claim my body back as mine- I tattooed over my scar lines - a flower on each side. I was not going to let cancer take what little self image I had regained. I'm 44...growing older, but trying to do it gracefully. No botox or anything like that for me. I've gained weight - not in the great shape I was at the time of diagnosis. But that's who I am now. I am who I am ... love me or leave me. lol

      about 6 years ago
    • SandiD's Avatar

      I looked like crap during chemo! Bald, bloated, watery eyes & pale. It passes as we regain our health! I have hair & can wear makeup now. Funny, it isn't as important as it used to be! I am just XXX happy to be here and know who & what is important now! Of course we don't look so hot during treatment, we are fighting a deadly disease for God sakes! It is ok to look sick, we are sicker than ever! I wish I understood that then. I am 2 years out from treatment. I look better and care less. Funny how that happened. Blessing to all of you!

      about 6 years ago
    • twebster's Avatar

      Almost everything that I put value in is really insignificant. Hair will grow back and so will eyebrows. I believe that cancer gave me "new eyes". I saw a lot of thing s and people in a very different light.

      about 6 years ago
    • mysecondchance's Avatar

      I have always been self-conscious about my weight. I let that rule my life in so many ways. I tried to compensate with clothes, makeup and hair. On my first meeting with my surgeon he told me I would look much different the next time he saw me, I'd lose my hair. I surprisingly responded, "I don't care if I am bald the rest of my life, as long as I am alive."

      When my hair began to fall out, it was gross; hair on my pillow and my favorite chair. I felt like a shedding dog. I washed it in the sink to see how much was actually falling out and it was alot. I knew the time had come to shave it off. I cried when the reality hit me, then I called my hairdresser. She had told me to let her know when I needed her and she would come to my house.

      Wow! It was such a freeing experience. I loved the look. No more bad hair days for a while. My mom said I was her mannequin. People remarked on my nicely-shaped head; something I never would have known.

      I had purchased some scarves, the old-school paisley bandanas in many colors (18, I think) but when I tried one on I didn't like the way I looked. It had been 30 years since I had worn one. I also had some knitted hats that I only wore when it was cold. I sported my bald head wherever I went. Strangely enough I never saw anyone stare, point or do a double-take, not even children.

      The experience change me. I have lost about 20 pounds in a year at Weight Watchers (I am a fallen-away lifetime member) and though I am frustrated by the slow weight loss, I am determined to stick with it. I am still quite overweight but the self-consciousness has disappeared. Weird. I have even accepted my large derriere. Hey it works for J-Lo and Kim Kardashian!

      about 6 years ago
    • arashkya's Avatar

      I was never terribly focused on how I looked by other people. Yeah, I made sure that my clothes fit right and I was always fairly in with the latest trends (thrift-store versions). When I was in the midst of my treatments my hair began to fall out. Everyone told me to just get rid of all of it. Apparently I started to have this new-found need to keep my hair. I babied it. Suddenly spending more time and care on my hair than ever before.

      Every couple of months I would go to the salon and have them fix it up the best they could, so that it looked as best as possible despite the thin spots. I even went as far as doing at home placenta treatments for the benefits of the protein.

      I never lost all of my hair. I was told there were some bald patches in the back, but from the front it looked pretty good. My hair is back now, and healthier than ever. Having cancer actually made me MORE aware of how I should be treating my body.

      The second thing was my face. I stayed very very swollen and at one point received the following statement from a family member "Wow!! Those are some great looking dick sucking lips!". It was terrible. I couldn't do anything. The amount of swelling was so bad that it was hard to talk. I received stares everywhere I went and sometimes even got spat at. Those were the times when I had to wear my mask for being outside.

      You learn a whole new outlook on people. How things that look different can frighten them. And being frightened doesn't exactly bring out the best in people.

      about 6 years ago
    • Nancebeth's Avatar
      Nancebeth (Best Answer!)

      I have always been confident about my looks. I think I am reasonably attractive, but not super hot or anything. I had a bilateral masectomy and although I had immediate reconstruction, I still felt deformed because I had no nipples or areolas. However, since then (I had my srugery 2/3/12) I have come to realize that I am still the same person with smaller, perkier breasts that have no nipples. Not sure I'll get any. Probably just the tattoos if anything. When I started chemo and my hair was falling out in clumps, I shaved it off. Now I have a short pink spiky cut and I love it. I guess what I am trying to say is that I am just happy to be alive, and I am gonna try and look my XXX best while I live it up for those that aren't able to!

      about 6 years ago
    • Laurie's Avatar

      Have always been very self-conscious about my looks. Just not great looking at all. So, double mastectomy didn't help at all (at least my BAZOOMS stuck out farther than my fat belly). Even the biggest replacement feels like an A cup to me and one failed, so I am doing the uniboob thing, which is the last thing I wanted (why I got double and not just 1 mastectomy!). I have a thing about symmetry, so.............. Because you can only tell I even HAVE a "boob" with tighter clothes, I am considering whether to just take it out and not re-reconstruct other side. Especially when I have read about people's chronic pain from lat dorsi flap. I haven't been comfortable since the mastectomies almost 3 years ago and not sure it's worth risking for a boob that isn't even very visible. Most of the time, I don't think about it, but when you happen to catch a glimpse in the mirror, or heaven forbid, you try to find clothes that fit, wow, does it hit home. I thought I would be flat without boobs, but I seem to be somewhat concave and odd shaped. I tried on a somewhat clingy knit V neck shirt----no f'in way (the saleswoman agreed). Apparently, no more scoop/ V or any kind of drop neck shirt for me anymore, or anything clingy. I had enough trouble buying clothes BEFORE due to odd body size that they don't really make for, and this just makes it worse.

      On the lighter side, when I had 2 "boobs", I definitely didn't want nipple reconstruction, since they would always be RIGHT THERE IN YOUR FACE when you looked at me. I was considering whether to tattoo NIP on one and PLE on the other! Or maybe 2 big paw prints, like a dog jumped up on me.

      about 6 years ago
    • Modern's Avatar

      When you lose your hair and 80 pounds people don't recognize you. Lol just kidding but that did happen once or twice. I used to be very proud of my hair it was long dark and had those perfect ringlet curls. I'd use to have compleat strangers compliment me on it and kids in school would ask if they could pull a curl to watch it bounce.then cancer came and I had three choices regarding my hair
      choice one do nothing and pray I was one of the 5% who wouldn't lose there hair and have a shrink ready in case I wasn't .
      Choice 2: Go to a specialty wig shop where my insurance was willing to pay up to 2000 dollars to have a wig made out of my hair for me
      or three find a cheaper wig and donate my two feet of beautiful curly hair to locks for love.
      I took the third option found a rockin wig that was short spiked and an awesome shade of red. Everyone loves my new hairstyle and with the exemption of a few post chemo days where I'm practically sheading I feel relatively comfortable bald. Sure I get some odd looks when I don't wear my wig and have gotten more than my fair share of random people starring at the poor little bald girl but you know what I didn't pick this minimalist hairstyle weight can be lost and gained but I feel good about myself for being a fighter and now when I tell my friends going to a tanning booth is stupid (even though my cancer has nothing to do with tanning booths and I've never used one) and other than the fact I you know have cancer I'm glad ingot the vanity trip up I was never vain before but I've started taken care of my appearance and actually trying to look good (the lost 80 pounds dosent hurt either ;) ) but after the first oh no moments my self confidence started to grow majorly :)

      about 6 years ago
    • pattiep's Avatar

      I had a unilateral mastectomy last month and I couldn't care less. Decided to have an implant for symmetry (and I'm small breasted)- currently in the expander stage. I was nervous about the anesthesia but otherwise fine with this. Couldn't wait for the cancer )(DCIS) to be gone and to get on with my life. Everyone thought I was so darn "brave" yada yada but I just felt like you do what you have to do. I'm a single mom, too- want to stick around for my daughter. Then surprise! The post surgery pathology had invasive tumors and I'm about to start chemo next week. Found out 3 weeks ago but was hoping for tamoxifen. Well, I'm going one year of chemo - the first 18 months will be hair losing, skin ruining, bloating, no manicures/pedicures and I am an absolute mess. I can't stop crying. i should be grateful that I'm not going to die. I shouldn't care. I'm the type that gets my hair done every 5 weeks (cut and colored), nails done every 2 weeks -silk wraps, watches my weight like crazy, doesn't leave the house without makeup and a good outfit kind of woman. I keep telling myself I'm lucky but I am so very very angry and sad - it isn't helping. I don't want to wear a scarf, hat or have a bald head. I don't even want to wear sandals without a pedicure. Will my family and friends care - no. They are furious at me for my bad attitude. I don't know if I need a therapist more antidepressants or xanax. i guess I've discovered that I am incredibly vain but only about myself. I don't judge others- I just feel like I have to look perfect all the time. i"ll get through it because I have to and when my daughter is home from college I'll snap to it - because I always play the good role model but I feel like everything really really sucks right now. Plus I refuse to ever look like the poor little cancer victim in public. This latest facebook trend "like if she is beautiful" with a photo of a cancer/other disease patient is really annoying me. What is the point of that? I'll stop rambling.

      almost 6 years ago

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