Appearance and Physical Changes
For many adolescents and young adults (AYAs), appearance and physical strength are important parts of their self-image. Some lymphoma treatments can cause temporary or permanent physical changes to the body, including hair loss, surgical scars, weight gain or loss, fatigue (feeling tired all the time), and/or problems with balance and agility. This may make AYAs feel self-conscious or insecure and may impact how they relate to others. Physical changes and reduced energy levels could require changes to their normal routine, and they may need to adjust their expectations at a time in their lives when they crave normalcy and want to fit in with their peers.
Although it seems counterintuitive, some patients describe positive changes in their body image as a result of living with lymphoma. For example, they may gain an appreciation of their body’s ability to recover or discover that appearances and body shape are less important than they used to be. Scars can be seen as signs of courage and survival.
It is a good idea for AYAs to speak with their doctors and healthcare teams before treatment about what kinds of physical changes arise. There are many valuable resources available throughout their cancer experiences such as physical therapists, dietitians, fitness coaches, and counselors who specialize in helping cancer patients deal with these changes. AYAs are encouraged to use all the resources available to plan and work toward a post-cancer lifestyle that includes their passions and interests.
The Lymphoma Research Foundation (LRF) Adolescent and Young Adult Lymphoma initiative is supported by Founding Sponsor The Paul Foundation.