Starting From Scratch

Most days prior to my cancer diagnosis, I felt indifferent about my body. I’ve had times in my life that I’ve hated the way I look, and I’ve had times when I loved my body, but overall I felt pretty apathetic about my body. Like most people, I had a tendency to see the flaws over anything else. Receiving a cancer diagnosis made me feel hateful and betrayed by my body. It wasn’t until a few weeks after my mastectomy that it hit me: I had lost a part of my body that had been there my entire life. I felt lost and unlovable. At the end of treatment, I decided I needed to dedicate time to work on myself to help with my recovery. From that point onward I made love of and for my body one of the most important parts of my healing. The only way to get through everything was being able to love myself wholeheartedly.

Through my self-love journey, I still miss the way I used to look, but I wouldn’t trade my new body for my old one. When I think of my old body, I think of the cancer growing within. My new body will be with me now as I go forward in life. I’ve found ways to celebrate and express love for my body that make me feel radiant and beautiful – enjoying long baths, spending time naked in my apartment, looking in the mirror and finding comfort in the way I look, dancing at home or anywhere there’s music that makes me want to move, covering my ugly radiation tattoos with small freckle-coloured hearts as a way to show love for my body. I don’t want to see flaws when I look at myself now, I only want to see the beauty, strength and love that I know are there.

Alicia Thurston Photography
Alicia Thurston Photography

Ashley Watson, Environmental biologist, Vancouver, British Columbia. Diagnosed at 30.  IDC and DCIS, Stage II, ER+.

Click here to read how self-love helped Ashley achieve body acceptance after cancer.

This piece has been republished with permission from WILDFIRE Magazine, the 2020 “BODY” issue (Vol 5, No 3, Copyright (c) June 2020 by Wildfire Community LLC). More information available at   

Every month, Rethink will be sharing powerful stories and poetry from WILDFIRE Magazine. Use code RETHINK for 10% off a magazine subscription, single issues, writing workshops, and more. Subscriptions and individual issues are available in both digital and print.
WILDFIRE Magazine is the only magazine for younger women diagnosed with breast cancer. Headquartered in Santa Cruz, WILDFIRE is a beautiful story-based magazine that comes out 6 times a year on themes relevant to younger survivorship, from Stage 0 to Stage IV.

You may also be interested in

Covid and Me
Cancer Fabulous Diaries: Infection
#YWMBC: Vesna
50 Carroll Street Toronto, Ontario Canada M4M 3G3
Phone: 416 220 0700
Registered Charity #: 892176116RR0001

Join Our Movement

Follow Us

Donate Now

You can make a positive impact in the lives of people impacted by breast cancer