Learning to Love Myself During and After Colon Cancer


Before cancer, I started to lose myself, but cancer taught me that loving myself isn't selfish.

Illustration of a woman with long brown hair smiling brightly.

Have you ever taken anything or someone for granted before being diagnosed with cancer? I would have never thought that this question would ever cross my mind. It has been four years since my diagnosis with colon cancer. Looking back and reflecting on everything that I went through, I can honestly say that my attitude towards life has changed. If I had the opportunity to go back in time, I would definitely handle myself differently.

In 2019, five months before my diagnosis, I met someone whom I ended up falling in love with. The emotional burden of being with him was immense. My relationship showed no signs of growth, and I recalled many moments of feeling unhappy. I wanted to leave him; however, my fear of being alone was far greater than I imagined. I stayed in the effort of not wanting to lose him, without realizing I was losing myself instead.

The battle between my heart and my mind was self-destructive. I was not courageous enough to tell him how I truly felt or how his actions affected me. I remembered many occasions when I would just stay silent. I felt frustrated, disappointed, unworthy and lonely. Everyone seemed distant even though they were at arm’s reach. I lost sight of who I was and what mattered most. This was a battle I kept losing with every word left unsaid.

During that time, I believed that my value as a woman was not good enough and feeling happy was out of my horizon. I depended on someone else to make me feel joy. Not loving myself abundantly was one of my biggest regrets. However, I knew deep down that breaking up with the love of my life was the best decision I could have made. It took me three months to finally make that decision, but once I did, I regained my power as a woman.

What I took for granted from this experience before my diagnosis with colon cancer were self-love and self-expression. It was significant for me to recognize that I gave someone permission to make me feel inferior, which I will never allow again. I have learned that loving myself is not selfish. On the contrary, when I truly loved myself, it was when I learned to love in return.

To conclude, after my diagnosis of colon cancer, I have worked tremendously on self-development. It has helped me grow in all areas of my life, especially in having the ability to speak up for myself. Expressing my thoughts and emotions has provided an inner peace within that I value highly. It is definitely the best remedy for my soul. If I had practiced this more consistently before my diagnosis, I know I would have never lasted so long to voice out my feelings. Having personal boundaries with the people you care about is an essential component of having positive, healthy relationships. With that being said, love yourself every day because it is the best gift you can give to yourself.

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