To be honest, it’s pretty weird to look back on it now… And I keep thinking (even as I’m writing this) why wasn’t I?
My body confidence wasn’t all that great even before the mastectomy. What a lot of people don’t know is that while plastic surgeons can do some pretty amazing things with implants, reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy is very different from having a regular “boob job” on real breasts. I’ve heard other cancer survivors call them “Barbie boobs.” So yeah, kind of like that but with scars.
"It isn't so much the issue of the body but what that means for them in terms of being perceived as a normal, viable partner in a prospective relationship," Payne says. Women are counseled not to bring up their cancer on a first date, but Guglielmino notes that many women wonder, "When do you tell a man, 'I have only one breast'?
Those in the field are working to improve the quality of life for all cancer patients, with a special focus on the unique difficulties young women face.
"Under the best of circumstances we have things about our bodies we like and things we don't like.
"Young women who aren't in secure relationships have the worst sexual problems," even when they've never had cancer or any other health condition, says Leslie Schover, a clinical psychologist at M. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston who studies sexuality and fertility after cancer.
"Put breast cancer on top of that and it's not surprising you get higher rates of problems. It often sends young women into menopause before their time, with all the accompanying symptoms: fatigue, hot flashes and vaginal dryness that can make sex painful and desire evaporate.