Cobie Smulders says posing topless for the cover of a magazine felt unnatural at first, but ended up being an important way for her to understand her body again after overcoming ovarian cancer in 2008 at age 25.
“It was a very strange day. I was standing in front of a camera lens in my underwear and holding my breasts, all while trying to appear not sexy but confident, not flirtatious but gleamingly positive,” Smulders writes in an essay for Lenny about the 2015 photoshoot.
“It all made me start thinking about this body that I’m in. And what it has been through. And suddenly this bizarre invitation became an opportunity to share some insight from my experience of being diagnosed with, receiving treatment for, and eventually learning to cure my cancer.”
“Just when your ovaries should be brimming with youthful follicles, cancerous cells overtook mine, threatening to end my fertility and potentially my life. My fertility hadn’t even crossed my mind at this point. Again: I was 25,” Smulders writes. “… Now I was being told it was most likely not a possibility to create my own children. It felt grossly unfair.”
While she prepared for surgery to remove the cancerous tumors, Smulders says she spent the next four months trying everything possible to get the rest of her body healthly, from a “devastating breakup with cheese and carbohydrates” to yoga classes, crystal healers, acupuncturists, chiropractors and more.
“Thankfully, gratefully, cancer did not get the best of me. The best of me now lives on in my two little women, baby girls I was lucky enough to be able to make with my own body,” Smulders says.
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And Smulders says she now feels a need to help other women get through cancer.
“So now that I’m on the other side of this, I feel like it is my duty, even if it means posing topless, to spread awareness,” she says. “Since my article in Women’s Health came out, I have had so many conversations with women about their own battles with cancer, and it feels so empowering to open up this dialogue and learn from each other.”