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.
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 wildfirecommunity.org