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Sex and Intimacy ... Gone?

Posts: 10
Joined: Nov 2005

I am 38 and 2 months into my process of stage 1 breast cancer, full mastectomy, sentinal node surgery, expanders put in and now chemo. At the time of my life where I really need my husband, he seems to have emotionally and physically left the building. My husband is a person who was always very expressive and would love to have sex every day if he could. Since my surgery, we've had sex twice in two months. He is very distant and even his hugs are very superficial, not a nice strong hug like you would need at a time like this. Has anyone else experienced this? Do I have to face the fact that my marriage is going to be another casualty of this disease? I feel so alone and really have nobody to talk to about this. The only thing I can feel is that I look completely hideous with my huge scars, the port, the node scar, the hair loss. I look like a disaster area -- maybe he can't even look at me anymore, I don't know. Does anyone have anything similar? Does it come back or do I just put that stress on the back burner until I'm done with my treatment? I've talked to him several times, he just says he doesn't want to hurt me (physically I assume) and doesn't know where to touch that won't hurt. I don't know what else to think other than maybe the diagnosis was too much for him and he wants to leave or I look awful and just turn him off now. Help.

Posts: 288
Joined: May 2003

Hi Annabelle, Cancer is a very scary word, not just for the patient but also for the family and caregivers. Perhaps your husband is afraid to hurt you, he probably doesn't know exactly how much you hurt or maybe he's worried he'll make it worse. Sure, the scars may look horrible now but you are more than scars, you are still the same person, remember that the hair will come back, the scars can be taken care of when you are well and the port will come off too. Have you talked to your husband about how you feel, about the loneliness? The diagnosis was probably very scary for him but it doesn't necessarily mean he wants to leave. I would be a bit reluctant to touch someone who just had big surgery, not because I am repelled but because I would be afraid to hurt that person. Maybe you can let him know what is the best way to touch you and hug you without hurting you or causing pain.
All the best,

Posts: 3
Joined: Dec 2005

Hi annabelle, I lost a testical and had 12 surgeries from my cancer, including one where they split me open right down the middle. This left a terrible physical scar, and an unexpected emotional one. I was a fitness phataic and very fit physically. I was very self-conscious oif my scars and the missing testicle. I wasn't able to be intimate like I was before. The good news is that after an adjustment period you gradually come to accept that this is still your body. Loosing a breast is different, I can't imagine, but the process may be similar. Your husband is just confused and afraid. The intimacy will return, but it may take some time. Talk to him about how you feel and about your emotional needs. He is as uncomfortable as you. My sex and intimacy returened to what they where before my cancer and yours will too. Please let him know how much you need his emotional support right now.

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