The effects of treatment for cancer can have a devastating effect on a woman's sense of self and her body image. She will probably lose her hair, may lose her breasts, and will be poked and prodded and put through machines in an attempt to save her life. In memory of inspirational UK bellydancer, Yvette Cowles, we are taking bellydance classes to hospices and cancer units, helping women get back in touch with their bodies and their femininity, and bringing joy and laughter at a time of crisis.
Treatment for cancer, vital though it is, can seriously undermine a woman's sense of self, affecting her self esteem, her confidence and her body image. Hair, breasts, womb and skin are so important to our self image and femininity, and the loss or disruption of them through surgery, chemotherapy and other interventions, adds an extra layer of distress at a time of great crisis. In addition, women can disassociate from their bodies and feel real hatred and anger towards the affected body part.
Bellydance is possibly unique in its ability to help women feel better about themselves. The moves are feminine, sensual and rooted in a woman's body and are wonderful for boosting confidence and getting women back in touch with those parts which they may feel have let them down. Not only that, but the joy and fun gained from bellydancing in a group is marvellous for lifting spirits, encouraging laughter and bringing joy. And learning a new skill is enourmously empowering for terminal patients.
Sadly for many of our beneficiaries, there will be no long term. But for women living with terminal cancer and facing the end of their lives, to dance for joy in the company of others is so life affirming. And for terminal patients, learning a new skill is enormously empowering. But for all women affected by cancer, we hope our classes will boost confidence and self esteem, encourage body confidence and help them to dance their fears away, even just for a while.