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Boosting Appearance-Related Self-Esteem

Mirror, mirror on the wall. Do I look like myself at all?

Managing the appearance-related side effects of cancer treatment can be particularly challenging for patients who aren’t feeling well. A recent study shows a psychosocial program, “Health in the Mirror,” can help women adapt better and more quickly to issues related to changes in appearance during cancer treatment.

After an initial psychological assessment, 83 females with cancer began the three-part “Health in the Mirror” program. Group sessions included a personalized make-up session and wig tutorial, instruction on caring for skin and body during cancer treatment, various spa treatments, and finally, a group discussion focused on patients’ thoughts and feelings regarding their cancer experience and participation in “Health in the Mirror.”

Immediately after the program and at the 33-month follow-up, participants reported significantly reduced depressive symptoms, anxiety, and body image issues; as well as higher levels of self-esteem. From the article in Frontiers in Psychology, the authors concluded, “In our hospital, the ‘Health in the Mirror’ program is now considered an integral part of cancer treatment as it promotes a better and faster adaptation to the new disease condition.”

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