I was 32 when I had my lumpectomy and received a cancer diagnosis. I was going through a divorce and still young enough that I had reason to believe I would find someone new. I’ll be honest. I had great boobs. They were one of my favorite features and I knew it. I wore a DD bra and they had still managed to stay perky enough that you couldn’t tell if I took my bra off. Then, the cancer came.
Vanity kicks in and you worry about your breasts or your hair. I knew people with breast cancer, and I had seen the mastectomy scars. I was more scared of that than the risk of not beating the cancer. I was fortunate to catch it early.
That’s just my story though. We get used to ourselves a certain way. An illness can change all that in the blink of an eye. How do you get used to the new you and learn to feel comfortable in the body you have now? It’s not easy. That’s for sure!
The most important thing is that you do this on your own terms. You don’t have to please anyone else. Never forget that part.
If you’re single, you might wonder if you will ever find someone that can find you desirable or attractive again. If you have a partner, you may worry if they will still feel the same way about you. These feelings are normal. You must remember that you are still the same person. If these people are truly who you should be with, they will care more about who you are, than what you look like.
Here are some suggestions to help you return to the active love life you once knew:
1. If you have a partner, talk to them. Chances are, they have some concerns also. They are new to this also. Let them know your concerns and ask them what theirs are. You may find out that your partner doesn't care if you’ve changed physically. If you feel self-conscious, let them know. If your biggest fear is what they will think, tell them.
2. Take small steps. Most woman don’t rip all their clothes off and act like it never happened. I was fortunate that my scar is usually concealed by most bras or nighties. If you have a nightie or a robe that you are comfortable in, perhaps you can wear that. I’ll bet once they see you in your romantic attire, your partner isn’t thinking about your scar or surgery at all.
3. Lighting. Candle light is flattering to almost everyone. This is my suggestion for a lot of women I know that have experienced this. Not a lot of candles. Just one or two. You want dim. You want to be able to see each other, but not worry about bold lighting making you feel awkward. Of course, if you want to start out with total darkness, that’s your right also.
4. Positioning. Would you be more comfortable facing your partner, or with you facing away at first? Maybe you would enjoy a spooning position, or another position where your partner is behind you. Everything can be adjusted to accommodate your personal choices.
For myself, my right breast was the operated on side, and at first I was worried that it would be a turnoff. The first time my boyfriend and I were together after the surgery, he really didn’t seem to think about it at all. I was worried for nothing. He was a little more gentle than usual, but that’s because of residual pain I was having, not because he wasn’t turned on. At first, my scar was pink and you really couldn’t notice much difference. Over the years, it has actually changed and it probably bothers me now more than it did then. A few adhesions have formed, so it’s a deep dimple. Again, he hardly notices. He does favor the left side when he rubs or touches my breasts, but I don’t think it’s intentional. He just happens to be right handed, so that’s the most convenient for him.
Maybe your change is your hair. I have long, thick, dark hair, and I was very fearful of losing it. I did not need chemotherapy because there was no spread to lymph nodes, but many women do lose their hair.
The key is the same as above. Do what makes YOU feel better. If you feel comfortable with your natural look, that’s wonderful. If you prefer to wear a scarf, or even a wig, that’s fine too.
Also, it’s important to remember that your partner may be afraid to move too fast. If you notice any hesitancy, please don’t worry that they have changed how hey feel towards you. A caring partner will be anxious to comfort you. In doing so, they may refrain from touching in case it is painful, or being aggressive in bed, in case you don’t welcome the nudity.
It’s normal to worry and think about how things will be once the treatments and doctors appointments are over. The most important thing to remember is that you are a beautiful and strong survivor and you made it through the hardest part. And in time, you will make your triumphant return to a healthy, active sex life!