- Question from Ramona L.: Hubby keeps saying I'm a hot babe, but how can I believe him? This is an old-time breast man, and here I am with a scar where one of his favorite parts used to be. I appreciate his kindness, but I think I need honesty more.
- Answers - Marc Silver I spoke to a woman who had a double mastectomy. She was very worried her husband would no longer find her attractive. He told her, "the part that matters still works, and I'll just find something else to do with my hands." Seriously, I think that most men don't care if their wife has one or two or three breasts. They didn't marry a breast, and I hope they love the woman and not her breasts.
- Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W. When a patient is sure that the honest answer from her husband is that she's no longer acceptable because of breast surgery, that's really a reflection of her own feelings. Research has been done and shown that most husbands or partners don't find that their interest or marriage is disturbed by the breast surgery. Their concern is mostly for how their wives feel about it.
- Marc Silver One husband told me that after his wife's mastectomy that he told her, "I always liked the other breast anyway." Sometimes humor can diffuse tensions.
Marisa Weiss, M.D.
Some partners learn to love a particular part of your body because stimulation of that part brings you extra special pleasure. If that part of your body is no longer present or no longer gives you pleasure, it may lose importance to your partner as well. If you can discover another part of you that brings you pleasure or fun, then sharing it with your partner may successfully shift the focus from your breast over to this other place.
I have a patient who has had bilateral mastectomy without reconstruction. Her breasts had been her biggest erogenous zone and were also the focus of her partner's interest. Once they were removed, the couple had to get creative. In a serendipitous way, they happened upon a new zone of pleasure in her armpit, so they shifted their lovemaking over to that part of her body. And it worked. Sometimes you have to open your mind up to ideas that you never thought you'd have to come up with before.
The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference called Family and Loved Ones featured Rosalind Kleban, L.C.S.W., author Marc Silver, and moderator Marisa Weiss, M.D. answering your questions about the issues surrounding family members and caregivers living with and caring for women affected by breast cancer.
Editor's Note: This conference took place in September 2004.
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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