|Coping and dating after a mastectomy|
|Thursday, 20 October 2011 10:38|
Breast cancer is said to be the disease that changes women into blocks of steel. Few diagnoses generate as much turmoil to a woman as breast cancer; and the effects are even more pronounced when the woman has been asymptomatic and is not psychologically prepared to cope with a life threatening disease.
The emotions generated by the word cancer and the prospects of mutilating surgery potentiate each other. The side-effects of the treatment which include hair loss and ovarian dysfunction are usually reversible, but the depth, prevalence and duration of the "post-mastectomy syndrome" may last for years if not for the remainder of a woman's life. Significant psychological effects, mutilating anxiety, ambivalence, hostility and depression are the most severe psychopathological effects that a woman experiences after a mastectomy.
Sharon's survival story
Sharon, a single, very attractive woman was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 35. The fears of the diagnosis were worsened within a week by the reality that she was to have a mastectomy. After the marathon of the cancer diagnosis and the treatment, she realized that "it was not even over when it was over." The changes in her physical appearance and life expectancy sparked concerns about the future of a romantic relationship.
Before the cancer was diagnosed she had a relationship with a man who wanted to marry her, but she refused his proposal. Now, after her mastectomy, she wondered who would want to marry a woman with one breast. She was devastated by the scar, but she did not have breast reconstruction and wore an external prosthesis in her bra.
Within the first year after the mastectomy, she felt sufficiently adjusted and allowed herself to start a relationship with a man who found her very attractive. For a few months they dated, but she did not tell him about her cancer and related mastectomy. The reason she held back this vital information was because she felt inadequate and less feminine than other women. She felt that this eligible bachelor might begin comparing her with other women with two breasts.
Finally, before the relationship became intimate, she told him everything about her cancer and mastectomy. But predictably, the once devoted suitor claimed he couldn't cope with her situation and left immediately, dropping her like hot bread. Her worse fears were realized as she felt she would never be on a level playing field with other women. She was devastated and lost the confidence she regained after the ordeal, and regretted not being up-front with the man when she first met him.
After a few years, she reconnected with the ex-boyfriend whose marriage proposal she refused before she was diagnosed with cancer. This was a mature man who treated her with respect and compassion as if she had three breasts. Her mastectomy was not an issue with him and this boosted her confidence and sex appeal as he became familiar with her prosthesis. Intimacy was good, but she was still insecure and feared he would find her scar offensive, so she always wore a bra or blouse during love-making. However, for the same reasons as before, she declined his proposal of marriage for a second time and felt she would never be 100 percent comfortable with her body image again.
Fourteen years after the event, she finally met a man who rocked her world and erased all her insecurities related to her mastectomy, and today she is happily married.
After a mastectomy, it is important for a woman to let her potential partners know early about her cancer diagnosis and related treatment, telling them this in a few sentences. Letting them know how she feel about her experience may make a big difference in how comfortable or uncomfortable they may be. If a suitor can accept this and still wants to be with her, the woman would have found a good man. If he rejects her, this is not the kind of man she needs in her life.
With mutual understanding, a woman's life and relationships can be as beautiful as it was before her breast cancer diagnosis and mastectomy.
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|Last Updated on Thursday, 27 October 2011 17:28|