A Guide to Breast Cancer and Intimate Relationship: Communication and Self-Love
Undoubtedly, one of the most challenging aspects of breast cancer and intimate relationships is managing both of them at the same time.
During and after breast cancer, most women say they feel completely unsure about their bodies – and no wonder. Treatment certainly takes a toll on the body, including side effects like frequent nausea, extreme fatigue, weight gain and loss, hair loss, and of course the most dramatic change of mastectomy: the loss of one of the most sensual and feminine parts of the woman’s body, the breast.
So the idea of maintaining an intimate relationship, understandably, feels like too much to bear for many women, even if they have been with their partner for years.
Communication is key to breast cancer and intimate relationships
Cancer survivors tell us that a return to sexual intimacy is possible, but only if you’re open with your partner at every stage. As you will read in the articles below, when it comes to breast cancer, and intimate relationship-building, it’s almost always a matter of communication.
It’s critical to remember that although it’s important, “intimate relationship” doesn’t always only mean physical intimacy. If he/she remains supportive, your life partner and the emotional intimacy you share during breast cancer — one of life’s most frightening and challenging experiences — will carry you far. Talking about your feelings, your body, your needs, fears and hopes is the very definition of intimate. With that deepened bond you will, indeed, be ready to return to the more physical aspects of your relationship after cancer.
It is worth noting that we’ve heard from some women for whom breast cancer and intimate relationship was not a reality; their partners couldn’t, for whatever reason, handle their breast cancer. But oftentimes, that sad fact of non-support is the result of a lack of communication.
Learning to love yourself
It is natural to wonder how our partners will react to seeing us without our breasts – they play such an important role in society’s view of femininity and sexuality. What we don’t think about regarding breast cancer and intimate relationship, is that their view of us is largely based on our view of ourselves. Body confidence, therefore, is vital. Learning to love your new body, despite its changes and including its scars, will give you and your intimate partner the freedom to return to a loving, joy-filled relationship.
How to manage breast cancer and an intimate relationship with YOU
For this task of learning to love your new body, there are some things you can do:
- Spend time looking at your own body lovingly in the mirror. Take pride in how your body has carried you through tough times, and has healed.
- Touch and feel your scars; after breast cancer, an intimate relationship with yourself is a good starting point.
- Know what feels good and what doesn’t; sometimes sensitive skin near your surgery site should be avoided, and sometimes reconstructed breasts no longer feel the same when they’re touched.
- Wear lingerie and clothing that make you feel beautiful and sexy. This is an often overlooked way to ignite self-confidence, and that can lead to intimacy.
Many of the articles we list here are personal stories, written by women willing to share their experience with breast cancer and intimate relationships. We are grateful to them for their candor because this topic is one that many women need more information about, but are often too timid to ask.