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    Sexless marriage since treatment ended
    WendyMcN posted:
    I celebrating 1 year cancer free in a few days and I have to admitt that I am struggling with a lot of anger and hurt.
    I have a wonderful husband who has been my rock through all the surgery and treatments but now it's different. He has no physical attraction to me. I am feeling like I want to have our life back and he is the one who can't seem to find it. Is this common for the husbands? I read all kinds of articles about the women having sexual struggles but haven't found any for men. Is there really ever a time when it's all over?
    rachael67 responded:
    Wendy, I am so sorry that although most of the breast cancer surgeries and treatments may be a thing of the past, you must now deal with the fallout such a battle can take on both partners.

    It is not so very unusual for either the man or the woman to find intimacy a struggle after all you've been through. This may be due to something related to medical aspects or to emotional. Some meds can change things hormonally and a woman has little if any desire, or has physical changes which make intercourse painful and/or difficult. Being sent into early menopause can be shock ot the system.

    Changes in physical appearance can be reflected in the attitude of either partner. Women often feel less than beautiful. And men may find it difficult to relate to this new body...Often that comes from fear of hurting his partner and not so much a visual turn-off.

    When one of you in a relationship faces a life-threatening experience, it can do a real number on the psyche. Dare I trust that I am actually okay? What if I say or do something which makes her fearful or hurts her? Should I safeguard myself and not give my heart to someone whom I may loose in a brief time? How will I live without her? He must think me ugly now?

    The illness itself may no longer be an imminent danger, but the emotional issues may have only begun.

    "I have a wonderful husband who has been my rock ..." If your man has been there for you through all the bad times, it may just be that he is in his own struggle now with how to proceed. Were I in your place, I think I would approach my primary physician and tell him what is happening. Perhaps he knows someone you can go to alone or, better yet, as a couple and see what is underneath this reaction. If your doctor cannot provide you with someone's name, please check with your medical center or American Cancer Society or Komen Foundation. Don't give up!! You both are more than worth it!

    Know you will be in our hearts. And please let us know how you two are doing.


    PS...His reaction is not that uncommon...And what is even more common is the man who walks out as soon as the diagnosis is given! LIfe isn't for sissies!
    kiwiallright responded:
    Hi WendyMcn

    I am at about a year out also, totally boobless and like you my husband was with me all through the chemo and surgery, then everything changed after the unvieling - meaning when the bandages were taken off he left the room. Since then dicussion has followed with, he no longer finds me attractive. I do not know what hurt the most hearing that the cancer was back or his words about how he felt. He is also very upset that I removed my left breast when he felt that as the cancer was not there it should not be removed, after the second go around of this cancer it was coming off, I have no regrets, my first round was nine years ago and it was IDC this on is invasive lobular caranoma. Emotionally I have been a wreck, as he has truly made me feel worthless - I am of no value. I know that I am. He does not know why this has happened but I am not letting him know that other men may have the same issues as that would just provide him with more fuel. At the moment I am no longer concerned about the initmate relationship because even though I tried thinking that it would make me feel more like woman I need to heel emotionally and learn how to deal with all of this.

    After the chemo then surgery they still found individaul cancer cells in the path report so that was another blow to the situation, go through all of this and they did not know if the cells were dead or alive so they sent me to rad's for five weeks.

    All I can say is we just have to be toughies and do our best to carry on. We have talked and I informed my husband that I forgive him for what he has said but how his words have made me feel will take a lot longer.

    We are worth so much that they do not realize it, I have told a few of my friends about how he feels and a couple just what to hit him and truly like you I did not think other men felt like this.

    I love your question re: Is there really ever a time when it's all over, I want to say No. Our health improves with time, we are alive, but I wrote a post over the weekend that people are being dianogised with cancer all around me and I silently cry because I do not understand why they have not found a cure.

    I do not know you or who you are but I am sure you are a wonderful person as they say time heals the soul and I am hoping for that for both you and me. I do hope that you go out and celebrate your year - - I get to celebrate for two different cancers, one in May - 1 year and one in June - 9 years, we will see which one survives the longest.

    Rachel suggested checking out references to see a counselor or some who can help you through this, I intend on doing just that and also at the cancer center or the breast care center at my hospital there is a nurse/patient advocate, she calls me when I least expect it and she pulls me through each time with her support.

    I have probably said to much but if you are interested in communicating via e@mail I would like it to be of suuport to you and I would also welcome your support all so.

    Have a nice day
    Dougyduke replied to kiwiallright's response:
    Hi, After 11 years of no cancer reacuurance yesterday I was told precancer cells was in my right breast. I had a lumpectomy,radiation in the left. 2 weeks ago I went in to have a reduction on my right is when they found the pre-cancer cells. It was obviously a blessing I had the reduction or it could of gone to cancer in no time. Now they say the only recourse is a mastecomy(I should learn how to spell it). I thought about having both removed. You gals chose not to go that route. My I ask why? I read up on some of the details of the procedure. I have a rock of a husband also that says it won't matter but now after reading your stories I am questioning it?
    Thanks for any input.
    rachael67 replied to Dougyduke's response:
    This discussion deserves an open exchange of experiences from not only you gals but from our whole community!

    When diagnosed we worry about living...then we worry about our bodies and the results of surgery...and about loosing our hair...AND how we will feel about ourselves which generally is the result of how we see ourselves looking in the eyes of the one we love!!!

    This is an issue which is vital to our well-being! How we heal, how we desire to heal, why we feel these ways, what we envision as our future...all of it is every bit as essential to our quality of life as any meds or surgeries!

    Please keep sharing with one another...and please, all members who have any experiences which might shed light on this, add your voices! This is important!!

    Blessings and Wisdom!
    kiwiallright replied to Dougyduke's response:
    Hi Dougyduke,
    The reasons as to why why I removed both of my breast was because I do not want to deal with BC again, with it been invasive Lobular Carcinoma, it has the potential to invade the other breast as well as ones ovaries & uterus. I also did not what to deal with it a third time if it moved to my left breast. Cancer is such a silent little mover and when it starts it does not take long before it starts goobling up all the good cells so it can survive. Truly from day one I wanted both removed and it isn't that bad, presently I wear a tank top with stuffing in for boob's and the funny at work today, two co-workers thought they looked a lot perkier than theirs. After reading Wendy's story I thought my husband was the only one who was having a hard time. It has been hard from that prospective but I just wanted to give myself a bit better chance of surival. Also most women that I have talked too who have only removed one breast wished that they had taken both. As I was somewhat big breasted I think it would have been hard having to wear a prothetis that would match the remaining breast. Another funny, but it is not, when I go jogging I had not realized that I do not have to worry about all that flooping that occurs. Losings ones breast is not funny it is not meant to happen but it does. Good luck with your decisions. Also do not worry about how to spell some of the words, I still struggle spelling some of the words that go along with cancer.


    Dougyduke replied to kiwiallright's response:
    Thank you for your encouragement. I should be blessed to have the problems I have. I know so many others are going threw a lot more then loosing a breast.

    564deb replied to Dougyduke's response:
    Dougyduke, Just responding from one of us out here who did have a bilateral. This was my decision and the decision was made after a lumpectomy on the effected breast, then chemo. My husband has been nothing but supportive of me and assures me that he is a butt man anyway!!...ha!. ?I can only imagine in my own mind how much he must miss the old "girls" but he has never spoken a word about it. ?Speaking for myself, I believe I did the right thing and have absolutely, positively NO regrets. ?I had expanders put in the day of the mastectomies and now have silicone implants. ?Do they look like the real yet at least. ?Perhaps after the nipples and the "tit tats" they will. ?I feel that we should all treat our cancer as aggressively as each of us possibly can. ?None of us want to go through this again, nor do we want to put our family and friends through our diagnosis again. ?Hit it with your best shot the first time and then hope and pray that it never shows it's ugly head again.

    All I can suggest is that you make your decisions with lots of expert advise from your doctors and lots of soul searching within yourself. ?This is your body. ?Your cancer. ?Your life. ?I personally feel that any man who would not love me after what he has watched me go through is not worth having anyway. That's just my opinion remember but I do take my wedding vows very seriously. ?For better or worse, in sickness and in health, till death do us part. Amen.

    Dougyduke replied to 564deb's response:
    Amen. And thank you.....
    saladin10 responded:
    Big Hugs to you! I have read through the repsonses to you regarding this matter and they are all good and so caring-- you ladies are so great.
    Wendy there is so much STUFF going on duing this time--I understand. My husband and I experienced these difficulties twelve years ago. I called them technical difficulties .I just wanted to share one of the comments my husband said to me during one of our conversations. "I am scared I am going to hurt you". Also, he was angry because I had gotten cancer. I know you are aware, but I have got to say it--men think so differently than we do. I do know that it helps to have lots of quality time together--just the two of you doing fun things; laughing and talking--you both deserve that. Life is so short don't sweat the small suff. Just love one another. Oh and yes the arguements will be still be there and that's life.
    Again, Big Hugs to you, Barb (aka Saladin10)
    LuckyHubby responded:

    I am happy for your first anniversary being cancer-free: I hope it's the first of many, many more. My wife and I just celebrated her first anniversary after a lumpectomy and radiation. She is on hormone therapy which has effectively squashed her libido.

    I would be lying if I said her lack of desire doesn't make me teeth-grinding crazy. I allow myself a brief pity-party, then remind myself that I am blessed to still have my wife. She is a part of me that I don't want to let go one minute sooner than the Good Lord demands. Yes, it's lousy but I still have someone next to me at night, when other men I know don't.

    I think that if your husband can admit that he's feeling _____ (fill in the blank: shafted, cheated) then he can get on with processing the feelings. I think the after-effects of a serious illness often challenge couples to redefine intimacy. Maybe this is an opportunity to rediscover ways of expressing love for each other.

    Please don't interpret this as my having figured it all out. I wrestle with my feelings every day but then I smile when I see my beautiful wife in my mind. Somehow, someway, we're going to make it work. Besides, I have too much invested in her emotionally to give up. We should all be more tenacious than cancer.

    Your husband will come around, just give him some time. My best wishes to you both for continuing health and happiness.
    Robsgirl10 replied to Dougyduke's response:
    I hope that I can help you with your fears and decision regarding reconstruction. I was diagnosed with DCIS in September. I have a non- invasive cancer, however, I have a big family history of 9 family members who have had a mastectomy. I chose to have a double mastectomy with reconstruction all at once. I would make the same decision again. I had my surgery on February 4th and have expanders in right now. I go in every other week for injections of saline to expand my chest muscle to make room for my silicone implants hopefully in mid-June! Then to make the nipples 6-8 weeks after that and tattooing 6-8 weeks after that. It is a long process, but I know for me I made the right decision. My husband has backed me the whole way and treats me no different than before my surgery. He would back me mo matter what. It is not an easy thing to go through and I have broke down a couple of times. It is painful at times, but mostly uncomfortable. I had 4 biopsies prior to my surgery and I know that I could not live wondering if my cancer would come back. I am cancer free and needed no treatment! I wish you all the best in whatever you decide!
    KorynH replied to Robsgirl10's response:
    In answer to your question for a Unilateral gal (I only removed one breast), I thank my lucky stars every day that I still have one breast. I have talked to friends who have had both removed, and for them, they are not as aware of the loss (or maybe they are but aren't telling me) because unlike me they don't have the natural breast on themselves every day to remind them of what was. My breasts were (are) about the only erogenous zone I have and it is a huge denying. I cannot imagine being without them BOTH. It is hard enough missing the one. I had both IDC and ILC (lobular and ductal) invasive cancers. Yes, I know I have a 30% greater chance of the other breast developing it some day but that also means I have a 70% chance that it WON'T! In the meantime, I am enjoying what I have and maybe one day it too will come off but I think my surgeon's advice 18 months ago was the best I could have followed. I asked if I were his wife what would he do and he said why would anybody ever take off a perfectly good breast out of fear. The stats just do not support the claims that women don't want to worry about it coming back in the other breast. More often than not it does not. My husband is more bothered about my lack of libido than my body change. Chemo and Tamoxifen are sex life killers. I am 1 year out from chemo and that hasn't changed. Plus, I hate my reconstructed breast which has no feeling whatsoever. Hate it. It's a hands off zone. Sorry gals - that is just where I am at. At least if he tries real hard I can be turned on by having the other breast and for that I am very grateful.
    KorynH replied to KorynH's response:
    Here is actually a great article on this topic here at WebMD:

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