When a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer, so many emotional responses are triggered. In many cultures, Western culture in particular, a woman’s breasts are a part of her femininity and sexuality. When the breast suddenly becomes the carrier of the enemy, CANCER, reactions and emotions are mixed. Some women can easily and pragmatically part with sections or entire breasts, shedding themselves of the enemy. Others struggle heavily with the emotions of losing their breasts. For so many women, the breasts have provided pleasure, sexuality, and love. How can a body part that has been so pleasurable become such a source of distress overnight?
I doubt that when someone loses a kidney or a lung to cancer there is the same emotional reaction to loss of those organs as there is to the loss of breasts. Even a man with breast cancer isn’t as likely to have the same response after lumpectomy or mastectomy as a woman.
For some women, the loss of their breast, the surgical scars, and disfigurement cause tremendous distress. Psychologically working through these stressors is important to complete the healing process – physically, emotionally, and sexually.
Breast reconstruction allows options to women in terms of feeling whole again. Some women love their breasts and cherish them as part of their sexuality. Surgical techniques have become quite advanced, making this is a great option for women.
It’s also okay to bypass breast reconstruction if you accept your body as is. There is pressure in our society, especially for younger breast cancer survivors, to pursue surgical options to reconstruct the breasts. It’s important to realize this is an individual decision that only you can make.
The reality is sexuality is a state of mind. Whatever you have to do to feel sexy again is what should be done. Try to embrace yourself, the wonderful body that has fought so hard for you to become a survivor, and your passion to be whole again. If your see your breast(s) as the conduit for the enemy, try to forgive. In forgiving, you’ll accept your physical self as part of your path to a healthy you. Think of it this way: If you had cancer in your foot, would it evoke the same emotional reactions as breast cancer does? Separate the cancer from the organ and it might help smooth your journey.