Young people and body changes – a video series

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Body Changes is a video series featured on the US website Cancer.Net, developed by ASCO and the LIVESTRONG Foundation. Their goal was to help young adults learn more about coping with their body changes from medical experts and young adult survivors.

Video one

In video one, Julie Gralow, MD and Lidia Schapira, MD – two members of the American Society of Clinical Oncology – discuss how young adults can prepare for body changes, or adjust to body changes that have happened.

Changes they discuss include: losing hair, fatigue, mastectomy, limb removal and scars.

Doctor Schapira suggests young people keep in mind that doctors aren’t mind readers, and to have a clear and frank conversation about any concerns. “It’s very likely that there is somebody on the team, somebody in your community who can actually help, who can listen, give you a program and help you get better and achieve the best possible function,” she says. “You don’t have to do this alone.”

Video two

Allan Goldberg is a childhood cancer survivor who was diagnosed with Rhabdomyosarcoma at 12. In this five-minute video he talks to a wide range young adults about how they felt when their body changed due to cancer treatment.

He and other cancer survivors share their stories to help show how to remain confident as changes happen. He says, “Dealing with changes to your body at a young age really blows … Think of this time in your life as an opportunity to learn that being a survivor is your badge of courage. ”

Footage was pulled from over 200 interviews with young adult cancer survivors as well as leading health professionals.

Some of their quotes include:

  • “Well at first, I was pretty horrified because right when you get the surgery, you kind of look like Frankenstein’s monster. And it was the springtime and I was wearing turtlenecks because it’s just this bright red, long scar across your neck.”
  • “I looked really different because I lost a lot of weight to begin with. And then I gained a lot of weight due to the drugs that I was taking. So my head kind of looked like a football.”
  • “It’s quite a big scar. And I would never try to get it fixed, because that’s who I am. And it means so much to me that I went through that experience. And it’s also a good reminder to myself, every time I look in the mirror and I see it, I just think to myself how far I’ve come, what I’ve gone through, that I should be so proud of who I am.”

Cancer.Net advises that young people should:

  • Talk with their doctor about what their expectations,
  • Ask for help in adjusting both physically and emotionally, and
  • Prepare ahead of time how to share their story with others.

Cancer Advisor has a range of content on body image, but we’re always looking for more content. Leave a comment below, share your own story or recommend a resource.

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