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JOYSGARDEN's Photo JOYSGARDEN SparkPoints: (34,758)
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4/25/13 12:16 A

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There was no discussion of anything sexual at all when I was going thru my treatments.....


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DEETHEDIETITIAN's Photo DEETHEDIETITIAN Posts: 356
4/23/13 12:44 P

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Thank you all for responding. Again, I am working on my PhD in public health and this is not mean to be rude or crude ... I just feel that sexual health is so important and it is an important aspect of one's relationship. Of course, the amount of importance really depends on the individual's age and disposition from the get go. But it does matter on some level. Even if it is only a physical intimacy that does not include intercourse.

I was 42 when I was diagnosed and had only been married for about four years. My hubby and I were very sexually active. Through the entire process he was (and still is) supportive. WE (he was a significant part of every treatment decision) decided to have a double mastectomy to minimize the risk of the cancer returning. I was fortunate that it was stage I and had not spread to the lymph nodes. Still, we chose to go through chemo.

We also chose to have reconstruction because I just didn't want to wake up without boobs.

Since then, I still struggle with body image... it has impacted my sexual relationship with my hsuband because he can sense my unease whenever he touches my breasts (it doesn't hurt but it feels weird - not natural). It doesn't help that I had gained about 30 pounds in the one year on Tamoxifen ... oh, and that Tamoxifen caused my uterine wall to become twice as thick as is should have been (so I had to have a total hysterctomy)...

It dawned on me that not one doctor spoke to me about my sexual health .. and even afterwards when I tried to speak with them about it - they seemed avoid the question or minimize the importance.

Thanks again for sharing ~ and if you want to share more that you feel would be too personal ... just send me a private spark message :)

It is not enough to simply show up. You need to step up for results.... keep on stepping! Dee


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BECKYANNE1's Photo BECKYANNE1 SparkPoints: (266,728)
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4/23/13 8:08 A

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I had a double mastectomy and reconstruction and nothing sexual was ever discussed. I have ups and downs about how I look and feel. DH is understanding about it. Since losing the weight and going thru BC and my other procedures, I just don't feel intimate anymore. Maybe someday it will come back.

Becky


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LADYMARCIA1's Photo LADYMARCIA1 SparkPoints: (107,809)
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4/22/13 10:42 P

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I was stage III with a 4 cm tumor. I also had HER2Nu estrogen positive cancer. Very aggressive. 26 lymph nodes removed. I had a radical mastectomy, 21 rounds of chemo and 6 weeks of daily radiation. Sexual health was never mentioned. But I never even asked about it. I didn't have reconstruction surgery, didn't want anything foreign in my body. Bad enough to have chemo and Arimadex for 5 years. I just went off the Arimadex and am finally getting my life back but it's been a long time getting here.
I had a significant other relationship for 10 yrs prior to the big C. Sexually active but I think this illness was just too much for him. We were both in our 50's. We never had a relationship after this. So now I live alone.
It's been very difficult to have a relationship with any one since.
So I'm very happy to be by myself.


Edited by: LADYMARCIA1 at: 4/22/2013 (22:43)
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CARPROTH's Photo CARPROTH Posts: 19,335
4/22/13 7:55 P

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Two of my three cancer doctors specifically addressed sexual health. Both my surgeon and radiation oncologist talked with me at great length about lumpectomy vs mastectomy and how each would impact sexual activity/image. I chose lumpectomy for my stage I, grade I, two centimeter tumor that had not invaded surrounding lymph nodes. I suppose part of that was relief that I wouldn't have to face drastic sexual identity issues - I wound up with scars, one week of brachy radiation, no infusion chemo necessary, and one boob slightly smaller than the other. In conversations with my surgeon, we talked about taking adjacent lymph nodes for testing and options if they were positive. In that case, mastectomy would be indicated. DH was part of all these talks and was asked his input every step of the way. He was just happy I wasn't going to die any time soon, but appreciated being consulted.

Part of our 'no problems' attitude probably is our ages - I was 62 and he was 70 at the time of diagnosis. That doesn't mean we don't still enjoy sexual activity, but a physically perfect body has been out of the picture for a while, so is not as important as it might be to a younger woman/couple. I had also gone through my mother's double radical mastectomy and reconstruction with her 25 years ago and could compare treatment options then and now (I pick now!) and know how emotional/psychological issues would enter the decision-making process. If I can be of any further assistance, please feel free to sparkmail me and tell me anything else you need to know.

Wishing you success with your thesis.
Carol

Carol


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CJYOUCANDOIT's Photo CJYOUCANDOIT SparkPoints: (53,211)
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4/22/13 9:42 A

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Sexual health was not covered. It was very focused on my breast cancer. Good Luck with your studies.

"The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new." -Socrates


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DEETHEDIETITIAN's Photo DEETHEDIETITIAN Posts: 356
4/21/13 6:39 P

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Hello Everyone! I just celebrated my 3 year survivorship ~ and I am currently working on my doctorate in public health.

I am writing a paper on sexual health and body-image in breast cancer survivors post-mastectomy and I would really appreciate it if you could email me or post comments here if you are comfortable about your personal experience with sex and sexuality or body-image and self-esteem. Here are some questions to get you started....

In my own experience sexual health was NEVER EVER addressed. I sort of got the feeling that I should be grateful to be alive, sex isn't that important (at least that was the impression because it was never disucssed and my husband - who also has to deal with this - was never a consideration in getting help in dealing with this post-mastectomy issues revolving around sex.

So.... did your doctors EVER speak about your sexual health either before you made your choice or once you made your choice? What about when you were all done with treatments and you were well into your healing? Did you feel the need for help with your body-image, self-esteem or sexual health in general?

In my personal experience - it was not addressed and if I brought it up it was swept under the carpet or minimized. Any literature I found really just suggested that I take it slow and that I seek counseling. And I am fairly resourceful - so this wasn't very helpful.

I really would appreciate any commentary on this!! :)

Dee :0)

It is not enough to simply show up. You need to step up for results.... keep on stepping! Dee


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