- Question from Sylvia: It has been months now, and I still can't look at myself in the mirror. How can my husband look at me if I can't even bear to look at myself?
- Answers - Patricia A. Ganz, M.D. Changes in body image are very common after breast cancer, and even women who have not lost their breasts as a part of the treatment may complain about feeling uncomfortable with how their body looks. You may want to try some exercises where you begin to look at yourself in the mirror and examine your body and be comfortable with your new body. You may also be misinterpreting the concerns of your husband or partner, because you may be more worried about how your body looks than your partner is. You may also want to seek some advice in counseling from a social worker or other mental health professional to help you adjust and adapt to your new body.
Marisa Weiss, M.D.
This is not easy to do. Relatively few of us were happy with our bodies before the diagnosis occurred, but it's true that additional changes have happened that may make it even harder to feel good about yourself. This is where your strong will needs to kick in. You really do need to be one of your own best friends. Your own sense of your body tends to be much harsher than a potential partner's perception of it.
Remember, most intimacy takes place in dark rooms and under the covers.
Try to be more accepting of yourself.
Patricia A. Ganz, M.D.
Also, you may want to consider reconstructive surgery if you have had a mastectomy to help you make you feel better about your body.
This should be covered by health insurance in most states. You should have a consultation with someone to find out what would be helpful to you. If you are using prosthesis, there are attractive options that women can use in bed so they don't have to undress completely if they are uncomfortable.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Quality of Life featured Patricia A. Ganz, M.D., and Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about how breast cancer can affect physical, emotional, social, and sexual aspects of your life.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in October 2001.
The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.
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