Where to Begin? Right Where You Are!

My breasts are very different sizes. I was not offered reconstruction for my partial mastectomy. I got a small prosthesis that fits in my bra, which makes my breasts look about the same size. And now I wear low cut clothing and love looking at my “girls.” Because I’m comfortable in my own skin, love my body, and myself. I am often told how sexy I am. This has nothing to do with having had breast cancer, although that was a big catalyst for me to do the work I needed to do to accept and love my body as it is.

Beautiful tattoo on women sexy after cancer Barbara MusserThe Truth is that there is no such thing as “the” perfect breast. All breasts are perfect, each in their unique way, whether surgically altered or not. The idea that we are somehow less than gorgeous because our breasts look different is simply not true.  I’ve seen women who have beautiful tattoos where their breasts were previously and they are gorgeous.

If breast cancer has damaged your self-image, you can work on creating a positive view of yourself. Are you going to great lengths not to look at the scars on your chest? It’s important to get past this attitude so that you can move on.

Practices to love your body – whether you have a partner or not

  • There are several reasons for these practices:
  • For you to love, forgive and make peace with your body
  • To prepare you, leading you toward feeling attractive and desirable
  • First with yourself alone and then with a partner or a potential partner.

1. Clothes cover
Fancy lingerie may be the immediate solution. If you want that protection, that camouflage, go for it. Indulge yourself. Plenty of women sleep with clothes on. Beneath clothing, a reconstructed breast or a good prosthesis looks “real” – it has the bounce, the weight, and the resilience of a natural breast. To a partner it feels very much like the real thing.

Responding to a discriminating market, many shops offer an excellent variety of prostheses and cleverly adapted prosthesis pockets fitted into underclothing and swimsuits. Ask your local American Cancer Society chapter for a list of shops, or look in the online under Lingerie.

Even for the short term, while you’re deciding whether or not to go ahead with reconstruction, a breast prosthesis may allow you to feel more comfortable about your image in clothes.

2. Easing into exposure
Beautiful lingerie can be your first step to getting into a pattern of relaxed sexual activity. (Remember you don’t need a partner for sex!) Sooner or later you need to come to terms with the changes in how you look. It is important to accept your naked body, even if you never did before, and make peace with yourself. If you have a partner, you will need to let your partner look at you and come to a similar point of view. Take it little by little. This is easier for some than others. Some women find it freeing to walk around their room or apartment totally naked. One woman I know invited close friends over for dinner and when they had finished, she showed off her new reconstructed breasts, to “oohs” and “aahs” of approval!

3. The Final Step
The final step is to be totally naked (with your partner if you have one). This is the last stage in releasing the anxiety about your self-image. ‘Cathy,’ in a new relationship, finally worked up to letting her beau see her naked chest—and he said: “You really did something big, letting me see you. But I told you before, it wasn’t going to matter to me.”

‘Ellen’ said her husband’s only concern was that she was alive, not whether her reconstructed breast was a match for the other. She was able to have a nipple-sparing mastectomy and the reconstruction looks fine, but she’s more aware of the asymmetry of her breasts more now than before. She looks with a much more critical eye than her husband. As time passes, she’s more and more able to accept how her breasts look now, and even to smile at her scrutiny of her beauty.

With or without breast cancer, some women just don’t enjoy being naked. You may need to face what you look like, but you don’t have to force yourself into behavior that never suited you. Often, sex takes place in darkened rooms. When the lights are low and you’re getting it on, whether you’re totally naked or not may not matter one bit.

© 2012 by Barbara Musser, Sexy After Cancer.
For more information, go to SexyAfterCancer.com.

This blog does not reflect the opinions of The Pink Fund, its Founder, Board of Directors, Advisors or Volunteers.  It is not meant to serve as medical advise of any kind.  Any questions about your health and sexuality should be directed to a licensed physician or therapist. Any opinions expressed are solely those of the writer who voluntarily blogs for The Pink Fund without compensation.

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