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“I don’t feel sexy with my scars. How will I ever feel okay about them and showing off my body again?”

Cancer nurse Beth says...

Scars fade over time, and even if they don’t disappear, they blend in and become less noticeable. Some people get tattoos to cover the areas they don’t like, transforming them and their meanings in different ways.

Have you noticed, though, how we are so often attracted to confidence in a partner? Sometimes confidence and strength of character is more sexy than looks alone. Strength is beauty. If you can come to terms and be comfortable with your own body and feel proud of what you have come through and achieved, this is incredibly attractive.

Sex toy expert Renee says...

It makes sense to spend some time working on how you feel about your body before being intimate with someone. Sexuality and confidence are intertwined but can be hard to master. Your scars are a part of you; they are a part of your story.

Touching yourself is a way of connecting with your body. It could be as simple as using body lotion after a shower. Stay in the moment and pay attention to how your skin feels, how the lotion feels on your skin. Stroke lotion over the bits you like – and try to include the bits you’re struggling with. Getting hands-on with your whole body helps build familiarity and acceptance.

Good underwear can make a difference. Try on some underwear or a great t-shirt or pyjamas, try on different combinations, see how it changes how you feel about yourself. Treat yourself to some new undies. Shop around – have a think about the material; how does it feel on your body, how does it make you move differently? What colours do you like? This is about finding your confidence.

Dancing is great fun and releases a whole heap of feel-good hormones. Create a playlist with music that makes you want to move. It can be slow and sensual, or you can go for it – pump it up!

Taking selfies can be really hard, but it can also feel incredibly empowering and help you fall in love with your new body. You don’t need to include your face or any particular parts; start really subtly with a shoulder or an ankle. Play with the lighting; try it by candlelight, fairy lights – you can even get a ring light! If you feel vulnerable and don’t like looking at yourself, delete all but one or two pics. Put them away for a while and come back to these pics later on. You may find you’ve softened and feel really proud that you dared take them. The more pictures you take, the more you embrace all parts of you, the more empowered and confident you will feel.

Masturbation is the next step. Using a lube you like, take your time and stroke your way around your body. Stay in the moment and focus on the sensations rather than the end goal. If you feel able to, grab a mirror and watch how your vulva / penis changes as you touch it.

Patient advocate Maria says...

For a long time, I was so self-conscious about my scar. I felt like it told my story for me, even without me opening my mouth. It felt the icebreaker with most of my encounters that I had. You just have to realise, after everything you’ve been through, that your scar is your medal and daily reminder that you’re a survivor. I really had to switch my mentality through loads of meditation and daily affirmations that I am that “Baddie B.”

It might sound silly but try something like this for 30 days. Write down 3 positive words you associate with your scar:

My scar makes me feel… like a survivor.
My scar makes me feel… like I am unstoppable.
My scar makes me feel… like an action hero.

It can be whatever positive, warm, comforting words you want. Repeat them daily to yourself in the mirror, morning and night. It’ll be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You will be surprised how repeating these words (and actually choosing to believe them) will naturally help you start seeing these qualities in yourself and associating them with your scar.

People are going to stare at you regardless of what you wear or how you look, so focus more on making sure YOU feel comfortable in all aspects, because it’s only when you start feeling confident and sexy within yourself, and about your scar, that people will treat you in relation to it.

Nowadays, I am lucky to feel confident enough so that it’s not everyone I meet that I tell about my cancer when questioned about my scar. That makes me feel so powerful and in control of what has happened to me. I choose to wear whatever, and I don’t care how much or how little of my scar is on show.