Losing my me-ness!

Hi All

I have been struggling the last few days with my loss of me-ness! it’s only just started to happen. This journey through breast cancer and chemo etc is changing me as a person, personally I think for the better. Along with this change I am questioning my new thoughts but it is not causing me too much distress. The thing I am struggling with is looking in the mirror and not seeing me. Losing my hair has taken with it some of me - does anyone else know what I am on about? I still have hair but its very very thin and starting to look shite no matter what I do with it. Even scarves arent really helping that much anymore. I went out tonight and put on my face as I do every day and made myself feel pretty. But when I got to my destination I felt surrounded by beautiful people, all perfectly manicured and coiffed and then I became ugly again. Body image has previously been an issue for me but so far in this journey it hadn’t really crossed my mind. It’s only the last few days. I just don’t recognise myself at the moment and I just wondered if anyone else has been through or is going through this???

Confused Bird

hi i know exactly what you mean although fortunately i didnt have chemo but there is still something about the person looking back at me in the mirror that isnt me!

Hello Bird, you are not alone in feeling like that, I had my dx in Feb, mx&recon, Chemo & tamoxifen. I keep looking at pictures taken at Xmas and don’t recognise myself, it’s like someone else looking back at me in the mirror. It’s like the “old” me is gone, I look older, the complete expression is different. Not sure if it will get back to the way it was before bc. Glad it’s not just me though. Big hug, tinaxxx

I don’t like looking in the mirror either, I don’t think I look like me. I think losing my hair has had a big impact and whilst I was going through chemo knew it was part of it but now the realisation that it will take a couple of years to get back to anything like it was is hard to take. No eyebrows or eyelashes doesn’t help. Its almost like a blank canvas. That along with the mx means that I need to get used to the different me.

Hi Bird
I to know how you feel. I have felt like this for a while.
The part I find hard is that everyone still expects you to be the same person you was beofre dx and to a certain extent you can put on a show so they still think your that happy, smiley person, but deep down inside your not.
That gets proven everytime I look in the mirror.
I don’t look at myself naked in the mirror if I can help it. I’ve had mx with no recon, put 2 stone on in weight and have very little hair, even though it is starting to grow back.
I sometimes think I’m alone in feeling like this, so glad that I’m not.
Chris x

i know what you mean! I am a different person that i was last year.

I finished chemo in Feb, rads March/April. Had 2 wle surgeries last summer. Now im on tamox.

Hi Bird
Hope you don’t mind me joining this thread: I don’t know if I qualify as a ‘younger woman’ (I’m 46), but I do understand what you’re saying.

I look in the mirror and ‘chemo woman’ looks back. She is much paler than me and has a lot more lines on her face. Her head is shaved, which makes her look tough on a good day and like a convict on a bad day. One of her breasts is scarred and smaller than the other.

In clothes, make up (hooray for blusher!) and wig, she can look quite good, but she doesn’t look like me and I feel a bit of a fraud when I go out.

I agree about some change being for the better, though. As a shy person who avoids confrontation like the plague, I feel that this tough woman I see in the mirror is inside me somewhere and I’ve felt more able to be assertive when I need to be. I’ll be getting Tamoxifen later so when ‘menopause woman’ arrives and I get any more assertive - watch out, world!!

Take care
Lilac x

I know what you mean, Bird.

I’m really struggling now my eyelashes are falling out. Sounds absolutely crazy, in the big scheme of things. I know I won’t have eyelashes again until this time next year as my treatment is so spread out, and that seems extraordinarily upsetting. The mastectomy is also very difficult to accept.

When I moan to my OH about these things and how I’m not ‘me’ anymore, he tells me this is me, just not on the path I was expecting. Sometimes it really annoys me because I feel I’m entitled to be the old-me and resent this imposter, but other times it helps. If I see this as a life-changing experience (as you say, not just for the worst) and one I was on track for only didn’t realise, it makes me feel stronger and even a tiny bit proud to be getting through it.

I think we have to find another way to express ourselves - that’s hard when you’re used to ‘big’ hair or a fantastic cleavage. We’ve been forced to grow up very suddenly with so many tough changes, but it’s still the same old ‘me’ inside, just with a new perspective.

You’re definitely not alone. xxxx Jane


I’m another one who feels the same. I simply hate myself now. I’m not the same person and feel ugly. I’m very lucky to have got away with a lumpectomy, but the chemo has wrecked my body. I too have put on weight, and tho my hair is growing back, I want my long hair again. The chemo and tamoxifen induced menopause is no fun either. Does anyone remember whay it’s like to feel well?

Julia xx

I totally understand what you are feeling. I had long stright hair which was in great condidtion before my breast cancer journey began. Now nine months after chemo I have a very short cropped style which i had streaked for the first time this week (Yipee). I am keeping it short because it has grown back curly and I feel I look like Rolf Harris without the emu if I let it grow. I dont think I will ever let it grow back to what it was but I would love some degree of choice! I was very much struggling last weekend with feeling that things would never be “normal” again. I have been having accupuncture in a trial to see if it hepls with fatigue post chemo and I think having more energy makes me feel a lot more posative about life. I used to hate looking in the mirror even though I chose to go bald and not wear a wig or bandana, loosing my eyebrows made me suddenly feel I looked like a chemo patient up til that point I did not feel too bad. I had a break in my chemo and they grew back quite quickly and I did not loose them when I had further chemo.
Hugs to all of you brave women out there go do something that makes you feel good howerver big or small that may be.

Jano xx

Yes, Julia, I am feeling the full post Chemo/tamoxifen menopause impact now, in a way I feel resentful about all these symptoms on top of the mx. I don’t think I understood at the start of getting the bc dx how much would change. I have had good days since then but not felt “well”. My hair is growing back very different, nails, eyebrows&lashes are in infant stages. Overall , I think I have to find acceptance of myself as I am now, not sure if I will ever look like I did before bc. Big hug to all. Tinaxxx

Hi, Hope you don’t mind me butting in. I’m a lot further down the line than most of you and I want to offer some hope. I’ve had the lot. Chemo/mastectomy(no recon)/rads/herceptin/chemo induced menopause and not a single hair left on my body for months. I know it seems very hard to believe but it does get better and you will find yourselves again.

I’m 49 and last Christmas when I looked in the mirror what looked back at me was my Dad in the last few days of his life. (He died of cancer aged 60)It scared the s**t out of me. By February, I had progressed to GI Jane. In April I had my hair styled and coloured for the first time since losing it. My eyelashes are still a bit sparse because Herceptin makes them fall out every 3 weeks but on the whole I’m pleased with the way I look. My new hair is a different colour but I’ve gotten used to it and changed my look to suit. Now that I have more energy I’ve gone back to walking the dog every day and I’m losing the weight I put on. We all change as we get older. It’s much more traumatic when it’s forced and sudden but change in some form would have happened anyway.

I know from experience none of this will make you feel better at the moment but I hope it gives you something to look forward to.

Jan xx

Thank you Jan. X

Ditto to almost all of the above! I am in second fec cycle and just facing up to the reality of losing my hair, my boobs were never big and one is now almost none existent, and scarred. The old me was energetic, positive, active… Contrast with tired, neurotic, pathetic…

Thank you so much for your positive words Jan

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