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Topic: ​Marriage/committed partnerships-your inspirations, your stories

Forum: Sex & Relationship Matters —

A safe place to talk candidly about how your romantic relationships and/or your sex life has changed following your diagnosis and treatment.

Posted on: Jan 29, 2016 01:21PM - edited Feb 9, 2017 11:46AM by Moderators

Moderators wrote:

Hello All,

Marriage/committed partnerships is hard work. It requires a level of effort, dedication and commitment. A cancer diagnosis often brings out the best and worst of you and your partner.

We would like to compile a section of stories, inspirations, concerns, etc. to help others in the midst of it all, or just receiving a diagnosis. Know we would never use your name (even your screen name, if you prefer). If you wouldn't mind us sharing excerpts or quotes from what you share and putting it in on our Facebook page, please indicate that as well (no names used, naturally). You can post your stories here in the boards, email mjenkins@breastcancer.org, or PM the moderators. If you have questions about sharing on Facebook , please feel free to email Krystyne (khayes@breastcancer.org). Thank you!

Here are just a few thoughts….

When were you most grateful for your partner?

Share some ways to keep the intimacy in your relationship when sex is out of the question

How did you and your partner prioritize each other/keep each other first?

What dates did you go on during treatment? Share date ideas, tips for other couples

Edited 2/9/17 to add:

Your stories have been published on the main site here: Members Share Stories of Marriage/Committed Partnerships.We encourage others to post their stories on this thread to join in on this month of love! Please, share with us what your breast cancer experience has been like with a supportive partner, and how long you've been together. It's inspiring for those who have yet to meet their loving soul match, and also for those who may not take the time they should to appreciate the support they have.


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Mar 2, 2016 04:46AM akshelley wrote:

I feel like my husband's love is the secret to my positive attitude during the last two and a half years of continuous treatment. My would be husband, Jim, and I met in 2009 just a few weeks after I was diagnosed with Stage 1. I had been a single mother for 11 years prior, and I thought God had the WORST sense of humor, sending some strange man to my doorstep, with two kids of his own, just weeks before I was to have the most intimate surgery I can think of, a double mastectomy. I grew to love this man, who saw me at my worst, or so I thought, while dating and decided to love me anyways. It turned out that my worst would be four years later when I was diagnosed with Stage 4, with mets to my lungs, lymph nodes, diaphragm, and bones. We had been married just two and a half years, and now, are age 43 and 40.

It hasn't been easy but Jim has assumed the roll of caregiver, and very carefully balances it with husband and lover. Cancer has robbed me of my youthful physical appearance and stamina, and I wonder how he can possibly find me attractive still. Yet, every time we have sexual intercourse, he makes me feel like the most loved woman ever. The frequency of intercourse has had to decrease, but the quality has not. We have had to be creative at times, replacing oral sex with manual stimulation and by wearing condoms to protect him from my bodily fluids while I undergo chemotherapy. It hasn't all been rosy. I miss the intimate conversations we shared in the hot tub, which I had to give up because of hand-foot syndrome. But we traded that for shared massages & lots of moisturizer.

I have been grateful for my partner every step of the way. I can't imagine having to travel this road alone. I would tell other women to continue to explore the ways you can reciprocate and to be as spontaneous as you feel up to being. My biggest fears are not telling my husband "thank you" enough and, wearing him out with my neediness. I feel fortunate to have this example in a man, for our three kids and they are all old enough to understand when I explain what an incredible man their father/step-father is in caring for me.

Please share your stories. Your marriage going through "the hard" can be the inspiration for other married couples who may be struggling.

More than just a cancer patient! Dx 4/2009, IDC, Stage IA, 0/6 nodes, ER+, HER2- Surgery 5/29/2009 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Dx 6/26/2013, IDC, Stage IV, 0/6 nodes, mets, ER+, HER2- Chemotherapy 7/15/2013 Taxol (paclitaxel), Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy 10/1/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 4/6/2014 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 1/1/2015 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 8/3/2015 Faslodex (fulvestrant), Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane) Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Chemotherapy CMF Chemotherapy Doxil (doxorubicin)
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Mar 2, 2016 06:21AM Moderators wrote:

Thank you akshelley for sharing your lovely story with us. It would be great if you could to send us a photo to go along with your story? It doesn't necessarily have to be a picture of you and your husband, but can be something that represents you, if you wish to remain anonymous. You can either post it here or send it via email or private message.

Again, thank you!

--The Mods

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Mar 3, 2016 07:22AM Moderators wrote:

Bumping for more stories!!

We know you've got a story to tell Winking

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Mar 6, 2016 10:50PM akshelley wrote:

More than just a cancer patient! Dx 4/2009, IDC, Stage IA, 0/6 nodes, ER+, HER2- Surgery 5/29/2009 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Dx 6/26/2013, IDC, Stage IV, 0/6 nodes, mets, ER+, HER2- Chemotherapy 7/15/2013 Taxol (paclitaxel), Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy 10/1/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 4/6/2014 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 1/1/2015 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 8/3/2015 Faslodex (fulvestrant), Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane) Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Chemotherapy CMF Chemotherapy Doxil (doxorubicin)
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Mar 7, 2016 04:09AM Moderators wrote:

Such a beautiful couple and fabulous photo! Thanks! Heart

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Mar 8, 2016 12:44PM PatrickG wrote:

Hello,

My wife and I just started our 17th year together, she truly is the love of my life. All the years we have been together have been amazing. Our journey with cancer only started about 7 months ago and it have been one of the scariest times of our lives. Our bond is strong we have said this throughout our time together that we are lucky to have each other and wished that others could enjoy the extreme closeness that we have. We have always been very intimate laying together talking and just enjoying each other's company.

Since her DX things have slowed down some in our intimacy as far as quantity but never in quality. We make time for each other it's needed, weather you think time may be limited or you feel that you have time. Just because she has had the stage IV DX does not mean that the intimacy has gone just the opposite it has increased. Passion has never been a problem for us, but now it seems to have heightened because when we are together it seems more spiritual if that makes sense. She is my soulmate my world my everything always has been always will be. I cherish each and every moment we have together. I did not need cancer in our live to appreciate her. I did not need it to know how special she is, it is just one of the certainties we know at our very core.

To all of the couples that are dealing with these times enjoy each other your partner needs you as much as you need them. Love and loving each other is the beauty that helps win each moment.

Chelle I love you

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Mar 8, 2016 12:53PM Moderators wrote:

Dear Patrick, Thank you for your inspiring story. Would you be willing to submit a photo as well? The Mods

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Mar 8, 2016 01:05PM PatrickG wrote:

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Mar 8, 2016 01:34PM Moderators wrote:

Dear Patrick, Thanks for the great photo. The Mods

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Mar 10, 2016 12:02PM akshelley wrote:

Thank you for sharing. Your wife is lucky to have you. I can identify with intimacy becoming spiritual, because you know this time is precious and, what she is going through, by making yourself open to her needs. Whatever may come, God bless you both

More than just a cancer patient! Dx 4/2009, IDC, Stage IA, 0/6 nodes, ER+, HER2- Surgery 5/29/2009 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Dx 6/26/2013, IDC, Stage IV, 0/6 nodes, mets, ER+, HER2- Chemotherapy 7/15/2013 Taxol (paclitaxel), Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy 10/1/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 4/6/2014 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 1/1/2015 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 8/3/2015 Faslodex (fulvestrant), Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane) Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Chemotherapy CMF Chemotherapy Doxil (doxorubicin)
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Mar 11, 2016 12:43PM PatrickG wrote:

Akshelley,

Thanks for the kind words. I think that most of us realize that our time together is the most precious thing we have, and being close to each other helps on so many levels. I am the lucky one I can assure you of that, my wife is simply amazing. She is the one that makes love easy, made it easy for me to know true love. A bit cheesy sounding, but true. I get the sense that you and your husband have a very good relationship as well, and that makes me happy to know others out there have what we have. God bless you too

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Apr 20, 2016 10:39PM MFalabella wrote:

We have been together four years, two of them married. Since we got married in Sept of 2014 I have had four surgeries not related to my cancer, but for other health problems. My husband has been nothing but supportive, and an awesome caregiver. When I got the call that I had cancer, he just held me and we cried together. I have yet to start treatment, but he has assured me, that my mastectomies will not affect how he feels about me, or his attraction to me. He is more concerned that I get rid of this cancer and get my life back. He is my best friend, my lover, my husband and and a wonderful Daddy to my six year old son. <3

45yo, mom to 4 boys, wife to 1 awesome husband Dx 4/3/2016, ILC, Right, 5cm, Stage IIB, Grade 2, 1/1 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2- Surgery 7/13/2016 Lumpectomy: Right; Reconstruction (left) Radiation Therapy Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)
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Apr 21, 2016 04:48AM Moderators wrote:

MFalabella,

Your husband sounds like an amazing person, we're glad that you found each other :-)

What a beautiful family!

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Apr 27, 2016 11:55PM akshelley wrote:

MFalabella,

In this world where men don't get enough credit for the kindness they show, thank you for telling us about your husband. Times are going to get rough, but lean into each other and absorb the healing love. Laughter is your friend. God bless you on the road ahead

More than just a cancer patient! Dx 4/2009, IDC, Stage IA, 0/6 nodes, ER+, HER2- Surgery 5/29/2009 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Dx 6/26/2013, IDC, Stage IV, 0/6 nodes, mets, ER+, HER2- Chemotherapy 7/15/2013 Taxol (paclitaxel), Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy 10/1/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 4/6/2014 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 1/1/2015 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 8/3/2015 Faslodex (fulvestrant), Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane) Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Chemotherapy CMF Chemotherapy Doxil (doxorubicin)
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Jul 14, 2016 09:24AM Moderators wrote:

We're loving these stories, and would love to hear more! Please post!

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Jul 17, 2016 12:59PM - edited Jul 17, 2016 01:04PM by mustlovepoodles

 My husband and I celebrated 35 years of marriage in April 2016. We have had our ups and downs through the years, but with each trial we seem to grow stronger.

Breast cancer is not our first challenge.  Our first child developed mental illness and had to be hospitalized twice. Our third child was born with multiple disabilities and functions as a 1 year old.  DH became disabled himself with an autoimmune disease that left him with stage 4 lung and heart disease.  Two summers ago he had open heart surgery.  And then last summer we found out I had breast cancer.

All the way through this experience DH has stood by my side. Sometimes he has stood in front of me, advocating for my care.  Sometimes he stood behind me to catch me when I felt like I couldn't deal with one more complication. Sometimes DH stood beside me, to hold me up and make me feel loved when I felt so ugly and dried up. He arranged for friends to bring in food. He took over the laundry and paid the bills. He drove me to every appointment and took me to the ER when I got septic. He even picked out a smokin' hot blonde wig when I lost my hair.

And now it is his turn. About a month ago DH was diagnosed with very aggressive prostate cancer.  He had surgery 2 days ago to remove the prostate. He feels pretty bad, both physically and emotionally. We know that he is facing incontinence and ED.  We know that there is a 40% chance that the path report will reveal a later stage cancer. But we will face it together, as we always do.


 

Oncotype 23. Positive for PALB2 & Chek2 gene mutations. My breasts are trying to kill me! Dx 7/20/2015, DCIS/IDC, Right, 1cm, Stage IA, Grade 3, 0/2 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 8/20/2015 Lumpectomy Surgery 9/2/2015 Lumpectomy: Right Chemotherapy 10/19/2015 Cytoxan (cyclophosphamide), Taxotere (docetaxel) Surgery 2/4/2016 Prophylactic mastectomy: Left, Right Surgery 10/18/2016 Hormonal Therapy Femara (letrozole) Surgery
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Jul 17, 2016 01:37PM Moderators wrote:

Dear mustlovepoodles,

Thank you for sharing your very poignant story with us. We are sending lots of hugs and warm wishes your way. The Mods

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Sep 8, 2016 11:19AM ForeverOptimistic wrote:

I have 4 more weekly sessions of chemo to go. My husband, best friend and confidant has been amazing throughout this. We've been married 16 glorious years. Unfortunately for both of us, the intimate portion of our relationship is on hold. The last time we attempted to be intimate, we weren't successful. Chemo has dried everything out. It was painful for both of us. We tried lubricants but it didn't help

I'm hoping and praying that changes in the near future. That my interior female organs behave properly once this is over.

Surgery 6/20/2015 Lumpectomy; Lymph node removal: Underarm/Axillary Dx 3/3/2016, Right, 3cm, Grade 2, 0/3 nodes, ER- Chemotherapy 4/2/2016 AC + T (Taxotere) Surgery 11/12/2016 Lumpectomy: Right; Lymph node removal Radiation Therapy 1/11/2017 Whole-breast: Breast, Lymph nodes
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Sep 18, 2016 01:46AM akshelley wrote:

Forever Optimistic: Be optimistic! Your sex life is a precious part of your relationship so don't put it on hold. The doctor can prescribe vaginal estrogen cream to help lubricate & stimulate natural lubricant, and there are many vaginal products that don't hurt, like step-wise vaginal dilators. I'm sure there's a more appropriate forum for this, and I recommend reading other women's accounts. If you can't talk to you MO about this, there are Oncology nurses and social workers who are more understanding and have suggestions. I had to discuss all this with my Onc RN. And, sometimes the side effects are reversible when you change treatment options. Good luck & glad to hear another happily married, supported woman.

More than just a cancer patient! Dx 4/2009, IDC, Stage IA, 0/6 nodes, ER+, HER2- Surgery 5/29/2009 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Dx 6/26/2013, IDC, Stage IV, 0/6 nodes, mets, ER+, HER2- Chemotherapy 7/15/2013 Taxol (paclitaxel), Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy 10/1/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 4/6/2014 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 1/1/2015 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 8/3/2015 Faslodex (fulvestrant), Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane) Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Chemotherapy CMF Chemotherapy Doxil (doxorubicin)
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Sep 18, 2016 01:52AM akshelley wrote:

Mustlovepoodles: You sound amazing, as does your husband. I'm sorry you have been through so much, as both a patient and caregiver. I have great respect for someone who can balance both roles. I want to share "my word" with you. It keeps me going when I'm overwhelmed. That is "fortitude" which means "courage in pain or adversity". You have great fortitude. Stay strong, and God bless you both.

More than just a cancer patient! Dx 4/2009, IDC, Stage IA, 0/6 nodes, ER+, HER2- Surgery 5/29/2009 Lymph node removal: Right; Mastectomy: Left, Right; Reconstruction (left): Tissue expander placement; Reconstruction (right): Tissue expander placement Dx 6/26/2013, IDC, Stage IV, 0/6 nodes, mets, ER+, HER2- Chemotherapy 7/15/2013 Taxol (paclitaxel), Xeloda (capecitabine) Hormonal Therapy 10/1/2013 Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone) Surgery 4/6/2014 Prophylactic ovary removal Hormonal Therapy 1/1/2015 Arimidex (anastrozole) Hormonal Therapy 8/3/2015 Faslodex (fulvestrant), Femara (letrozole) Hormonal Therapy Aromasin (exemestane) Chemotherapy AC + T (Taxol) Chemotherapy CMF Chemotherapy Doxil (doxorubicin)
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Feb 9, 2017 11:45AM Moderators wrote:

Hi all! We just wanted to let you know your stories have been published on the main site here: Members Share Stories of Marriage/Committed Partnerships.

We encourage others to post their stories on this thread to join in on this month of love! Please, share with us what your breast cancer experience has been like with a supportive partner, and how long you've been together. It's inspiring for those who have yet to meet their loving soul match, and also for those who may not take the time they should to appreciate the support they have.

Thank you all for sharing, and we look forward to more stories of LOVE and SUPPORT! Happy Valentine's Day!

Heart

--Your Mods

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Feb 9, 2017 12:24PM cliff wrote:

How about this for a good wife story? when I had my surgery april first, I took off temporary disability for a month to heal. I went back to work, and made it a month and a half. ended back in the hospital, infection and kidney trouble. back on temporary disability. went back to my surgeon, and she put a surgical dressing tape in my chest. I brought my daughter along to see how to change it, but she said " EWWW" and ran away. the nest day, I brought my wife, she saw how to do it, and did it till it was no longer needed. Pull that stinking piece of tape out every morning and replace it with another. can you think of any better wife than that?

Dx 3/16/2016, IDC, Left, 1cm, Stage IV, metastasized to bone, 2/21 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2- Surgery 4/1/2016 Lymph node removal: Left, Sentinel, Underarm/Axillary; Mastectomy Hormonal Therapy Tamoxifen pills (Nolvadex, Apo-Tamox, Tamofen, Tamone)

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