top of page
  • Writer's picturedrdiannedowling

Body Image and breast cancer

Whilst the media singles out brave celebrities who survive breast cancer, what of the others, who struggle, weakened by their treatments? Are they not considered brave too? Living silently in fear or haunted by the threat of cancer returning crosses the minds of most cancer patients at some time during their cancer journey. What of those who do not smile bravely?

Photo: © Dianne Dowling

In the success/failure binary opposites in medicine, we are labelled in either camp. Up until recently breast cancer was primarily an illness experienced by menopausal women however it now affects a much younger age group although they are rarely portrayed by the media. Cancer challenges our understanding of the body in terms of its vulnerability, its integrity, and its potential violation.

So many women experience loss of self after treatment for breast cancer. How we, and others, view our physical appearance is established during childhood and sufferers find it difficult to integrate their altered bodies as part of themselves. Women have to make meaning of the disease and the decisions they make regarding the transformation of their physical body. Sometimes there is fear, disbelief, loneliness, loss, bodily appearance and social interaction in the diagnosis and transformations of self. It is through our bodies that we come to understand ourselves and our relationship to the world with new eyes and new ways of being.

I can help support you through the process of change and making new meaning. Contact me at

Read more about the body and loss in my doctoral thesis available at:


bottom of page