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Physical identity after cancer

We asked for your experiences of building your physical identity after cancer. Here’s Jacqui on dealing with hair regrowth and accepting her scars:

JacquiWhen my hair was growing back, my head was very sensitive to touch. I found if my tiny, tiny hair bruised the wrong way I was in a lot of discomfort, but I found coconut oil helped ease it. To cheer me up, I took a photo every Monday to compare the difference in hair growth.

My hair came back very curly which I must admit I loved as I’d never had curly hair.  In the early days, it had thinned on top of the back of my head making me very conscious of it. I was always adjusting it, playing with it, or tying it up. Six years on it has started to thicken a lot more. I am trying out different shorter styles and adding new colours, but now my curls have all gone and it's poker straight!

At the start I was very conscious of my scars. I got upset when I looked at myself in the mirror as no one prepares you for that side of it. It's quite emotional looking at yourself for the first time after surgeries but over time I'm slowly learning to love my scars. They are part of me now. They show me just how strong I was and how strong I have become. My daughters helped me through this. They’re always supporting me, encouraging and complementing me. I found being open and talking really helped.

My name is Jacqui Tangney, I am a mum of two beautiful strong young ladies both in their 20s who have been by my side throughout my journey. I was diagnosed with breast cancer six years ago on my right breast (aged 39) with no family history. I had a mastectomy with immediate  latissimus dorsi flap reconstruction, then four months of chemotherapy and a year of herceptin. I have had a total of nine surgeries since I was first diagnosed and had my implant removed in February of this year due to ongoing problems.

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