Today Show co-anchor Hoda Kotb observed the six-year anniversary of being cancer free by producing a column this week about how she came to terms with her post-cancer body image.
"When I think about surviving cancer and dealing with body image after the fact, I realize now: You can't really prepare yourself for it, for how you are going to feel," she writes.
"You live your life and you carry it with you."
Kotb says her breast cancer required an extensive eight-hour surgery, which included a mastectomy and reconstruction. She describes her post-surgery recovery as a two-phase process.
"There's the 'OMG, they got it' reaction and you are just so happy they got the cancer. You are so grateful, and you think, 'I don't care what my body looks like, I am just happy to be here.' I still feel that deep in my soul every day. This is the body I have and I’ll take it.
"But I'd be lying if I didn't say there is a second phase, a window of time where you don't even want to look at yourself. It's jarring. I remember a moment in the hospital when a nurse said she needed to help bathe me and I had to be standing up, in front of a mirror. I told her, 'Please, just turn me around. I'd rather not see it.' "
But as part of the healing, she says, there is a growing acceptance of the changes required to remove the cancer. "You realize that you don't care about the scars," she says. "You are just happy to have this body, a healthy body, no matter the lumps and bumps and problems."