This June, Sarah Ferguson revealed that she’d undergone a mastectomy following a breast cancer diagnosis. But on the August 30 episode of the podcast she ​cohosts — “Tea Talks With the Duchess and Sarah” — Fergie, 63, shared that while the health scare may have required “a body part to be cut off,” she’d actually gained something even more valuable in the process: self-acceptance.

Indeed, the famous redhead said she had a “wake up” call to “stop worrying, stop self-hatred, stop self-doubt, stop all these things. Stop not liking yourself.” Fergie has also stopped measuring herself against the late Princess Diana.

“When I look back … I didn’t like myself, and that was because … I was always compared to Diana,” the Duchess of York, who’s previously dealt with body dysmorphia and eating disorders, noted of her former sister-in-law. “I sort of believed my own press, which is, you know, not too good.”

Fergie’s insecurities go back to 1986, when she married King Charles III’s brother Prince Andrew, now 63. “Sarah’s early years with the royal family were difficult,” an insider exclusively tells Life & Style. “She had an extremely hard time adjusting to life in the public eye, particularly because of the scrutiny she faced.”

Sarah 'Fergie' Ferguson's 'Difficult' Princess Diana Comparisons
Photo by John Shelley Collection/Avalon/Getty Images

Diana, who was two years younger than Fergie, had wed Charles half a decade earlier. And though the duchess says she tried to “support and protect” Diana as she would “a younger sister,” standing next to the fashionable would-be queen wasn’t always easy. “Fergie was often mocked for her appearance, while Diana was praised for her beauty and style,” the source recalls to Life & Style. “It was difficult for Fergie, and she didn’t have many people to lean on.”

Now, 31 years after they both split from their princes — and 26 years after Diana tragically passed away in a car accident at age 36 — Fergie has finally made peace with that time in her life. Feeling more comfortable and confident than ever, the mother of Princess Beatrice, 35, and Princess Eugenie, 33, even joked she has a “perky new friend” in the form of her reconstructed left breast, which she named Derek. “He saved my life,” she told pal Sarah Thomson on their joint podcast. “[Derek’s] with me all the time… protecting me with his shield of armor.”

But these days, she’s able to protect herself, as well. “With age and experience Fergie has learned how to deal with the difficulties that come her way,” says the source. “She’s happy with who she is and how her life has turned out.”