When I was diagnosed, I didn’t immediately say, ‘Shit; I might die.’ I said, ‘Shit, my hair.’
When you understand what confidence during cancer really is, you will have one more quality that you can use to adjust to diagnosis and manage the treatment so that you feel like you are doing cancer like a boss. Even those of us who consider ourselves confident still have moments – thanks to society’s obsession with body image and its automatic association with confidence.
On diagnosis, I was immediately tricked into focussing on my image by the number of people who insisted on telling me “You have a great shaped head, baldness will suit you.” It’s like someone hijacked my sensibility and the fears projected onto me were by others and their insecurities about body image.
Confidence is one of those words that has been overused and abused and is used as a hook to reel consumers in to buy something. You will look more confident if you lose 5 kilos; if you wear this outfit; if you eat this food; if you buy this product. Naming the Cancer Confidence Movement just that is for the same reason. In the interest of complete transparency, The Cancer Confidence Movement is also to associate the work I do with confidence. The difference is my intention and the focus. Cancer Confidence is about where real confidence is made?—?on the inside and the intention to create awareness about how to access that.
It’s nowhere near as sexy and alluring as me suggesting that I can help you lose 20 kgs in 5 minutes, and I can telepathically give you a face lift. But at least I am not pulling your chain about it. Building confidence, choosing to consciously transform one’s less than redeeming qualities is an active process. I know that those of you who need instant gratification to be confident yesterday are probably thinking that this adventure towards confidence is not really for you. So I ask you this?—?would you like to continue hating on yourself and showing your daughter how to hate on herself, or would you like to do something about it?
In a world where 91% of women hate their bodies, Only 4% of women consider themselves beautiful, and 80% of women agree that every woman has something beautiful about her but do not see their beauty it’s probably about time to try something different. These statistics from 2004 and more recently from 2016, 7 out of 10 women have an I hate my body moment every week. Not a great deal has changed including that confidence is almost entirely image associated.
While I am no supermodel, Miss Universe, or Playboy Bunny, I’m not all that hideous either. I’ve been kidding myself over the years calling my body voluptuous because if I just called myself plain overweight it just doesn’t sound as sexy. I have always been overweight?—?except the one time when I went to the gym everyday for two hours. I’m never doing that again. I train twice a week, eat a plant-based diet, don’t drink alcohol and if the weight doesn’t magically disappear then I am ok with that. Because regardless of my weight and size over the years I have never lost confidence. The only time I am reminded of the unacceptability of my weight or my image is when I am around people who see image and celebrity as more powerful. Like skinnier people are better.
The image conversation, when diagnosed with cancer, is about as important as the need to eat ice cream, but somehow it becomes a central topic because unless you have hair, you can’t be confident. And then there is the excuse that people need their hair because they are judged differently and then there is the excuse that they need hair because it makes their children uncomfortable.
My view is that cancer is by your own design, and you can experience it anyway you choose and if saving your hair works for you then go for it. But also acknowledge that anyone who is trying to save their hair and reject the cancer image is advocating societies need to be image conscious above everything else?—?including death.
The cancer image is that of a sick looking bald person or more recently with a turban and a cape and more provocatively to show the images after surgery, and we presume these people to be confident because of they ‘appear’ the be confident.
Sure, it certainly is a confident person who can visually state that they are confident. Kudos to anyone who does whatever they need to do to ‘show’ they are confident. I’m just wondering what it’s going to take for people to realise that if we continue associating confidence to image, we are building another generation of children who lack confidence and who value image as more important. Did you get the memo that there are more self-absorbed teenagers now than ever?
Let’s also not forget the confidence that comes with being really good at something, performance confidence. People that are intelligent and great at sport also believe that confidence in found in those attributes.
WHAT DOES CONFIDENCE MEAN DURING CANCER?
REAL Confidence, unbreakable, unshakable, unwavering confidence is found in what you think of yourself. What you say to yourself about yourself. What you listen to you say about yourself.
It’s how you SPEAK?—?THINK?—?LISTEN?—?DO. When you SPEAK?—?THINK?—?LISTEN?—?DO with confidence you will LOOK, FEEL and BE confident.
Cancer Confidence is how you speak up for yourself.
How you communicate with your medical team.
How you talk about cancer.
How you use the cancer experience to improve the quality of your life.
Cancer Confidence is telling cancer stories that inspire and uplift people WITHOUT including the drama normally associated with drug therapy.
Cancer Confident people are a new breed of people who not only want to look good; they will completely transform their lives from the beginning of diagnosis.
Yes, Cancer Confidence is also a little bit about how you dress and work that wig, bald head, and turban?—?but at its core, it’s greater than the image. It’s greater than how you look. It’s greater than how you feel.
It’s a full mind and body transformation.
All you have to do is ask yourself?—?if not now. Then when?
“Surprising Self Esteem Statistics on Dove®.” The Truth about Beauty Revisited. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Jan. 2016.
Etcoff, Nancy, Dr, Susie Orbach, Dr, Jennifer Scott, Dr, and Heidi D’Agostina.The Real Truth about Beauty: A Global Report. Club of Amsterdam. Dove, a Unilever Beauty Brand, Sept. 2004. Web. 16 Sept. 2016.
Galaxy Research Online. “News Releases.” Kellogs News Releases. Kellogs, 1 Feb. 2016. Web. 15 Sept. 2016.
THE SOONER YOU REALISE, WHAT CONFIDENCE REALLY MEANS DURING CANCER, THE BETTER was originally published in CANCER CONFIDENCE on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.