Every woman is different when it comes to reconstructive surgery: whether they get it or not, and how they feel about themselves and their personal life after making their decision. The ladies from SHARE each tell their own personal stories about maintaining intimate relationships after breast cancer, whether single or with a partner.
Marilyn: What is your advice on maintaining a positive sexual experience with your partner? if you have one.
Margo: I had reconstruction as well and I'm married. It turns out I had real, I had a lot of difficulty with it. Um, I had a tough time with my body. It took me a long time, and I have a terrific husband who was not judgmental and he was as sweet as can be. It turns out that after I had reconstruction I started to have back issues, and it was because I was holding myself like this, I was trying to hide my breasts. And, you know, on the other hand, I thought that my breasts looked a lot better. I was small busted and then I went to a C, my husband wanted me to be a C, it was a big game we had. So I was wearing a lot of tight clothes, and I thought I was just fine with it, but obviously I wasn't since I was covering myself a lot, and I actually went into therapy for a very short time, I had never gone to therapy my entire life and I needed it for that. And now my body image is, is fine. It just is what it is, you know, we all have our stuff and that happens to be mine.
Jane: I am probably in an unusual situation answering this question because my husband died about a year after my breast surgery. It was just hard suddenly being single and trying to meet someone when I was in my late fifties and hadn't been on a date in twenty-five years. But my body image was as good as it had been before.
Margo: I think advice for somebody going through reconstruction and then dealing with, um, sex afterwards, if you have a partner it's certainly a lot easier because you have that preexisting relationship, and if you don't have a partner it's tough because you have to determine when to talk about it and when to not talk about it. And I think everybody's different with this. There are some good books written about sex after breast cancer and I think they're worth looking at.
Marilyn: And several women that I've met in my group, they have not had reconstruction, and this is a very important topic with them. So we have had videos or talks, or we've had people come in where they can talk about their sexuality and how to deal with their self image. Whether you have reconstruction or not, you need to get help. Some people get it through support groups and other people get it, as other ladies have said, through therapists. But whatever it is, you need to address the situation.
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