Beauty Is A State Of Mind: Sex After Mastectomy

Self, Sex

That was the chemo, but I cannot really put into words the grief that I felt when I got the call from the surgeon telling me I had to have a mastectomy. My PET scan showed that the chemo was doing nothing, and the surgeon decided he wanted the tumor out in two days. Now, it is one thing to know the date for something and mentally prepare yourself; it is another to have someone spring a mastectomy on you. I tried to think to myself, "Okay, whatever, it's a boob. It sucks but hey, it's not my arm right?" but I wasn't ready. It felt like I was burying my youth.

Adam took many pictures of me that last night with two breasts—wig and makeup fashionably in place—while I pranced around in heels and lingerie. I'm happy we did that. It was like a small requiem for my breast.

After the surgery I had a village of visitors: co-workers and family, and Adam was there day and night. He slept in the same hospital bed as me, crammed up against the bars of my bed and my morphine drip. He teased me that if I got lost in the desert I would walk around in clockwise circles because I was lopsided (morphine makes everything funny). When I was home, he emptied the tubes that drained fluid from my body and dressed my wounds. The first time he saw my chest he cried a little. I cried a lot. He kissed my incision and said he "was a butt guy anyway."

It was so emotionally difficult to lose a breast. I'm not a very emotional girl, but it got to me. I kept feeling that I was supposed to be whole and beautiful and that I wasn't anymore. I felt broken and mangled.

I was expecting pain after surgery, but there was very little. It was akin to the soreness the day after a hard workout. What I was not expecting was the total lack of feeling. The left side of my chest is totally numb. I can't feel touch, pressure or pain. It was sort of a blessing in disguise because I didn't have to feel anything when they removed the skin staples and largely felt nothing when radiation made my skin resemble cooked bacon.

It took about a month to get used to my body post surgery. There is no preparing for how much of our sexuality we have tied to our breasts. At first I cried a lot and didn't want Adam to see me naked. I couldn't even imagine sex—even though I wanted and needed it. I felt self-conscious; I kept thinking, what if he's turned off? What if he can't have sex with me because I'm unattractive? I think at that point I wouldn't have been able to endure rejection or the idea of him not being able to get aroused at the sight of my missing breast. My best friend bodily dragged me out of the house to Nordstrom's where I was fitted for a prosthesis. It was her gift to me, a new fake boob. I will be eternally grateful.

After I had a fake breast, things got a lot easier. I learned that dressing up in the bedroom was the only way I felt comfortable having sex. I had to pretend that I was whole again. I wore a long, dark movie-star wig, a barely-there skirt and a button-down top (fake breast included) the first time we had sex post chemo and mastectomy. I looked like a hot catholic schoolgirl and pretty much mauled Adam the second he got out of the shower. The role-playing helped a lot with the uncomfortable parts. Infusing Fantasy Into Your Sex Life

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