I was okay when I had no hair anywhere on my body, I was okay when I looked as pale as a cotton sheet, and I was okay with the scars I had from my two ports, spinal taps, and various other procedures. Yet, my weight and stretch marks really bothered me. I just felt disgusting because I felt so different from my friends and the other girls my age. They could all wear these gorgeous bikinis to the pool and flaunt their perfect teenager bodies that were toned and tanned from the sports they played or the activities they were in. I felt like a 40-year-old compared to them, and it really started to depress me.
However, at one point, my parents helped me come to the realization that it didn’t matter if I looked different than them. My body had gotten me through hell and back. I was still alive, wasn’t I? I should regard my weight, my short hair, my scars, my stretch marks, and my pale skin as symbols of what I have overcome. Every time I look in the mirror and don’t like how I look, I remind myself what I have been through, what my body has been through. I have survived something that other girls my age could not even imagine.
The most important thing I needed to do was not to worry about how I looked, but to worry about being healthy. So, I started to exercise and eat healthier. That alone made me feel so good about myself because I got my body really moving again, something it hadn’t done in almost 3 years. It felt even better because I was doing it for me, for the sake of being healthy, and not for the sake of looking like my friends.
Whether you struggle with your weight, your scars, losing your hair, or something else, remember what you are going through or what you have been through. As cancer patients and survivors, we will always be slightly different than other people our age. Don’t worry about how you look, just worry about being as healthy as possible. Accepting yourself as you are and just focusing on taking good care of your body is all that matters. In doing so, you will be able to stay positive and be proud of what you have survived.