In March 2014, I was passing through the living room where my husband was watching television. The words of a local personality caught my attention with the announcement that Whitney Way Thore from the viral videos “A Fat Girl Dancing” would be in the next segment. Looking back, it’s hard to believe that this was the first time I’d heard about Whitney, her “No Body Shame Campaign” or the positive body image movement that is spreading over the country. After watching the interview, I was intrigued and wanted to know more so I did an internet search on “No Body Shame Campaign” and landed on Whitney’s website. At that time, the website mentioned the “More to Love” class (MTL) with Rachel Estapa and even provided a coupon toward the next class that was forming on March 31st.
I eagerly read about the MTL class and decided to give it a try. The cost was reasonable AND I figured that if Rachel was able to help Whitney, then perhaps she could help in my quest to accept my new body…the body that was left after cancer treatments.
After signing up for the class, I was so excited that I impulsively decided to share my story in a message to Whitney Way Thore. To my surprise she responded with encouragement and style! The following is an excerpt from my side of the conversation…
Thank you SO much for what you are doing!
I saw an interview with you this week which moved me to seek more information on the NOBS Campaign. What PERFECT timing!
You see…I’m at a cross-roads where I’m trying to learn to live with the scars, deformity, weight gain and pain from cancer treatments that have spanned the past 2 years. I’ve been a “big girl” most of my adult life. Injury, illness, life events…all teamed up to help me pack on the pounds. Now I weigh more than ever before. The chemo, radiation, and medicines have taken my strength, my energy, and my self-confidence.
I was held hostage – a prisoner of the war raging inside my body. And now that I’ve been “released”, I don’t know who I am or what I want to do with my life. My body is no longer under the daily control of the doctors but is still held captive by the lingering side effects. The only thing I do know is that I’m not the same person…and never will be again. Beyond that…I’m lost. Struggling daily. Trying to figure out how to cope with my new limitations. On the outside, I portray a woman who “has it all together” and is getting back to her life so family and friends can stop worrying. But on the inside I’m struggling to accept my new “normal”.
While writing this, I have to stop multiple times. Wiping the tears after each wave of sobs. Tears to grieve what has been taken from me. Tears for the new hope that you have given me. To start the journey to find the “new” me, I now realize that I need to focus on rebuilding my physical stamina and emotional balance WHILE learning to embrace my new body. I don’t have to…and shouldn’t…WAIT until I look or feel “better” to like and accept who I am NOW. Beyond body acceptance, I hope that this journey brings an awareness for a purpose (or mission) that allows me to touch lives in a meaningful way.
Sharing this with you has been very difficult for me…putting these feelings into words means I have to admit they are real. But in the spirit of the NOBS Campaign, I know that sharing my comments is also freeing…for me and possibly for someone who reads them. So even though this is a private message, feel free to share these words in whatever forum you deem appropriate. But for now, please allow me to remain anonymous.
I admire your strength and courage. And I hope that someday, like you, I can find my voice and pursue a new purpose.The first step on my path of self discovery will be to commit to the “More To Love Class” that you recommend. I’m looking forward to hearing your comments during the kick-off call. And if possible, would love to talk to you in person some day.
During a the MTL class, I had an amazing breakthrough with my body image which also led to an epiphany that I enjoy writing. Who would have known! With much encouragement from the class participants, this blog is born. It will be an outlet (hmmm…let’s call it an experiment) in sharing the thoughts churning around in my head and heart. Topics will be quite varied and will range from my experiences with breast cancer to poems and photographs that move my soul. I hope to share crafts, travels and maybe even a trial or two. Hopefully there will be a few “ah ha” moments that speak to you! So…lets see where the muse takes us!
The next post will share the MTL class assignment that led to my body image epiphany.