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Topic: Dating After Recostruction (and CANCER!)

Forum: Singles With Breast Cancer —

Singles with breast cancer who want to connect.

Posted on: Sep 28, 2009 04:28PM

elizzim wrote:

Hi friends,

I thought I would start a new topic, since I know there MUST be others like me out there?! I was diagnosed last December (2008), and 2009 was spent in treatment thus far: bilateral MX w/ TE's, chemo, and then exchange to Allergan 410's (Gummies). Facing cancer did one great thing for me: it taught me that I do, really want to experience love again in my life.

I'm a very young 47, single (divorced with 2 beautiful daughters), and faced with the prospect of dating as a completely different, less confident person than I was before I last dated, before BC. It's funny - I managed to stay pretty positive and hopeful through treatment. But ironically, now that it's mostly over (except for tamoxifen for 5 yrs) I feel a kind of sadness - even depression setting in. The fear about my future, the loss of my breasts, the uncertainty about how a man might react to my new breasts - all of this makes me doubt myself and my chance of finding love, even though I've always been a pretty confident woman in that department. I feel as though I shouldn't even put myself out there (with the short hair, reconstuction, etc.), that it would be a miracle to find someone who could feel about me the way men have felt about me in the past.

I know, intellectually, that good men are out there, that love happens to people in the thick of treatment, that I am more than my "looks". But on a gut level, it feels like the wind has been taken out of my sails.

Can anyone relate to this? Where did you begin to search, for those of you that are taking care of children, and don't get out there much? 

Liz Dx 12/9/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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May 18, 2010 09:38AM - edited May 18, 2010 09:39AM by musiclovermom

Hey Ladies!

I am NOT as confident as I might seem...

My husband left me after 25 years together... I had my youngest daughter graduate from HS the week I had my first biopsy... last summer was horrendous with selling a house and buying a new house and splitting up the family and all during this a biopsy, excision of a duct , a lumpectomy then the bilateral mastectomy...

I live alone and have done the cancer crap by myself and support from wonderful friends in my life. BUT I am the only single one... SO I NEED to get out!

It is so worth all the effort! I may not be interested in every man, but I am finding my self!

I met my husband at 18 and was married by 20... Have been with him my whole adult life and now I am remembering the person I was before marriage! It is very exciting to be just me now... no kids, no husband... this is the first time I can ever remember being me all by myself! I am liking who I am finding... and I think I might be funny too!

I have lost 75 pounds since last year at this time and that helps so much!

The ball game guy has been texting me every day and wants a 2nd date this week.

I will go and see what happens. I am not looking for long term, just to get out and make friends right now... It feels good to be desired and does something for my self image too.

I was scared to death to go out - until I did then I wanted to go out more, but have no one to go with... Now I am going out and forget to tell friends I am going so they can keep track of me.

I have a girl friend who was keeping tabs on my first date while she was on vacation in Hawaii! It was my first Internet date... Be very careful, but it was fine and the ice was broken... now, I am feeling comfortable by the time I meet someone and always go to a public place, but forget to tell the girls where I am and who I am with...

I got a great book that helped me too!

it is by Gina M. Maisano called INTIMACY AFTER BREAST CANER

dealing with your body, relationships and sex

I ordered it on Amazon....

Kimberly

Dx 7/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 18, 2010 06:05PM Stanzie wrote:

Kimberly - you certainly went through a lot, I'm sorry. However you do sound like you have managed to come out of it all stronger and a lot happier. I love that you like who you are now. I feel the same way after my divorce - I was awfully beaten down without any self esteem. I'm getting there but have still have a ways to go. I know I need to get motivated and get out there and also just have friends over. I find I will tend to be more of a hermit which I know isn't good.

Even if you aren't as confident as you seem, you still sound great! And losing weight - really fantastic!!!

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May 19, 2010 08:10AM musiclovermom wrote:

Thanks Stanzie!

I am so much Happier and Healthier this year than ever before in my life!

I have my days, but for the most part I am trying to decide what I want to do when I grow up! LOL I am 44 and single for the first time in my life and have new stripper boobs!

I am loving the way I am looking and the new girls look bigger as I lose more weight... Clothing is fitting so much better with bigger boobs too! I am very pear shaped and opted to go bigger since I could choose the size I wanted!

My PS was wonderful and knew exactly what I was going through. I even asked him if he knew any single men to introduce me too. I think that embarrassed him... He assured me I would not have trouble finding men once I got out THERE and he was right.

It was the getting out there that was the hardest, but once I went out, I wanted to go out more and more. I spent so long sitting home after surgery and during the whole fill process of the TE's. Then waiting for the implant surgery.

It was just about a month after my exchange that I went out one night. I was so excited to have someone notice me, but the thing is: I still attracted leg men... no one stared at my new boobs... very weird to me.

I would love to come across a man that would make me stop looking but know in truth I am not ready for that. If it takes me 15 years to find the right person it will be ok because I am worth it.

Kimberly

Dx 7/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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May 19, 2010 01:23PM Stanzie wrote:

Well you must have great legs too! Now your got great parts top and bottom!

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May 24, 2010 05:07PM sideout wrote:

hahahah Kimberly, I love the phrase "stripper boobs"!  So I'm a two-time leukemia survivor, but I work for an organization that raises money for breast cancer research through the sport of volleyball (The Side-Out Foundation), thus my presence in this community.  It's comforting to read that so many other women have the same worries/questions that I do with regards to dating.  In fact, I just published a blog about it for the Side-Out website:  Dating After Cancer.  

Although I never had surgery that altered my appearance, I struggled with the basic worries about dating after cancer...what if he's too scared to date a cancer survivor?  When should I tell him? How/When do I bring up the fact that treatment put me into early menopause (and I mean early! I'm only 32)?  

I'm so happy to say that I'm going out on a fourth date with a wonderful guy I met on-line (although my blog post was just published, I actually wrote it a few weeks ago).  When I brought up cancer on our second date, he simply raised his wineglass and toasted me.  After accidentally sending him an e-mail with my signature on the bottom (that has my personal blog address, http://juliekaymatthews.com/), I was nervous he might not want to pursue a third date (given that my most recent post on the personal blog details my dating worries in a much more emotional version of the Side-Out post).  When we talked later though, he simply smiled and told me what mattered to him was that I looked and felt healthy now.  

I feel so happy right now.  Here I am working, dating and just feeling normal...is it bad to feel like God kinda owed me one?  :)  Sending happy dating thoughts out to everyone.  

Julie 

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May 24, 2010 07:49PM musiclovermom wrote:

Julie that is wonderful! I am going to check out your blog.

Dx 7/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jun 7, 2010 11:12AM pattycakes6940 wrote:

HI:

I am a five year survivor and was married when i went thru chemo, radiation, bilateral mastecomy, but now i am single, had numerous surgeries but my breasts still look awful, and i was told this is as good as it can be.  I haven't been intimate with anyone since my divorce a year ago.  I m so scarred up and i have a port scar on my chest that looks terrible too.  I am dating, but i'm so scared to sleep with anyone, i keep running away when it's time to get intimate for fear and embarrasement of the way i look. I have absolutely no feelings in either breast and have completely lost my sex drive.  I want to reach out to everyone and find out if there's is something I can take to get my sex drive back.  I used to enjoy it so much and now i'm like a dead person from the waste down.  I guess it was from being thrown into menapause from the chemo.  The doctors said it would come back, from it never did.  It's been 7 years already.  I'm so depressed.  Should i tell men on the first date?  I'd rather them run sooner than later?  Please help me!

Patty

patty vetro
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Jun 7, 2010 06:53PM musiclovermom wrote:

Hi Patty!

There is a book that can help you! I bought it... 

 
Intimacy After Breast Cancer: Dealing With Your Body, Relationships and Sex by Gina M. Maisano (Paperback - May 2010)
Buy new: $16.95 $11.53

This book covers so many things!

Welcome and let us know what helps!

Dx 7/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 16, 2010 09:12AM OakiesMom wrote:

Hi! I just got back to the boards. I have had BC twice - 2 MX's. Husband was not terribly supportive during the 2nd bout- had depression and anxiety. Dr put him on meds - now he is a different guy - life of the party. After a trial seperation in 2008 -he returned home swearing his love ,etc. In 2009 found out that he had a 2nd cellphone and was calling someone he worked with. Threw him out. After 4 months and him wanting to try again - while still dating his girlfriend - didn't want to give her up - I filed for divorce.  Divorce was final 2 weeks ago.

Now is the hard part. How do you find the courage to get back out into the dating pool ? Now with my reconstructions and many scars I am not the person that i was 30 years ago when i met my X!  I am usually outgoing and very active- have horses - but i seems to freeze up and the mention of dating !I am only 49 years old - Am i doomed to a live alone with my horses, dogs , scars and mental issues that BC has left me with? Just wondering how you wonderful women got past these issues. Never in my life thought i would be in this position but need to find a way to move on.  

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Jul 16, 2010 09:28AM musiclovermom wrote:

OakiesMom

OMG! I started with on line dating... it was fun flirting on line with strangers and gave me some time to feel like I was desirable.

My first date was so exciting because I felt normal as he had no idea about the breast cancer. It just felt good to have a man want to kiss me - it was a good kiss!

It has been a few months of the online stuff and I had some pretty good dates and some pretty awful ones!

I looked at the dates as just meeting new people and getting out of the house. I have no expectations and if it turns out good then its a surprise.

I have been seeing a man for the past 6 weeks and I like him so much. It took lots of other dates to find him. I was not so sure he even liked me as he did not even try to kiss me good night on our first date. BUT I had no expectations! So when he asked me out again I was that much more surprised!

I did not go out with men thinking they were going to be my soul mate, just to meet people and make new friends and get back into a social scene.

Dx 7/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Jul 16, 2010 11:17AM OakiesMom wrote:

MusicLoverMom -

Thanks for the advice. I have friends who have also recently been divorced that had gotten back into the dating pool thru on-line dating. Had one convince met  to put  a page up on Yahoo. Personals. I had a lot of responses but i never responded to any of them ! I am the type of person who plans out EVERYTHING so all i could think of was "What is going to happen when and if things get more personal?" I had been married for 22 years - with him for 30 . Just the thought of having someone else "dismiss" me makes me think i am not ready yet for that step.

I am happy for you and hope this relationship works out for you. It give me hope though that when i am ready I will find a guy who is worthy of me !

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Jul 16, 2010 06:32PM musiclovermom wrote:

OakiesMom

I did the Yahoo Personals but they are closing down on 7/21/10 so I transfered to Match.com

I am having the best time and really like this man. Just reply with someting like: "Thanks, How are you?" or "Thanks for the nice compliments." I made it a point to reply to EVERY ONE!

Just a simple reply and see what happens... My first date was with a guy I replied to casually, then a week later he asked me if I had found a place for Karaoke yet... We started e mailing then chatting on line then did the video on line talking then had a date! then another date! I still talk to him once in a while, but we both knew it was just a few dates and that was all it took to get me rolling!

I have been on so many dates that I never even kissed the guy... Do not worry about the personal stuff until it gets to that point... All of the men I told that I had no nipples and breast cancer were so supportive and only cared that I was OKAY NOW!

I was married for 24 years when my husband left then I had cancer... I know where you are coming from... I was with my husband since I was 18 years old... The first date is so scary - but exciting! I felt like a GIDDY school girl... it felt so good!

Have fun and keep us posted!

Dx 7/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Sep 3, 2010 12:06PM madimas wrote:

I understand I have not dated or felt condident as I used too, Finally getting reconstruction at 65 and already starting to feel great, also shoulders evening out from one side heavier than the other. Any advice to get back to dating .

Mary
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Sep 6, 2010 05:35PM elizzim wrote:

Hello, everyone!

I have been away from this thread for so long, and I'm amazed to discover the community that has formed around the question that I posed so many months ago. My heart has been with all of you here the whole time, but I think I my fears and anxiety about cancer were getting the best of me (I was very affected by Heidi's death - she went by "Heidi Ho" around here...), and I needed a break.

I'm comforted to learn that there are so many of us, each navigating these waters in our own way. It's definitely a complex process. Still, I'm amazed by how different each of our experiences is.

For my part, I have been on quite a few first dates, each time hoping that the guy will be great, hoping that we'll feel a strong connection to each other. And of course, getting myself all worked up in advance about how to tell him (down the line) about my history with BC, when to tell him. I must have rehearsed that speech 50 times by now, and played out his responses, in front of the mirror. And it's all been for nought, since none of these guys were even close to what I'm looking for. I feel myself more frustrated with the challenge of finding the right person (because that's what I want - not just a fun evening or two), rather than the next hurdle:  that of sharing my history and my new body with him. It's scary and exhausting, and I haven't even gotten started yet!!

Just two nights ago, I met someone I'd been talking to for about a month, and when I was with him, no longer projecting the qualities I'm seeking onto the little I could glean about him over the phone, I found him kind of creepy. I don't mean to sound cynical; I'm actually very romantic and idealistic, even after the tough stuff we've all been through, but I'm looking for the real thing.

I'm actually having another (hopefully the last) fat grafting surgery tomorrow at MSK, so I'll be taking a brief hiatus from dating.

GIna, I'm going to get a copy of your book this week - can't wait to read it. I actually found you, and your site, back when I was first diagnosed, and it helped me so much!

Love and wishes for health and new beginnings for ALL OF US!

-Liz 

Liz Dx 12/9/2008, IDC, 1cm, Stage I, Grade 3, 0/8 nodes, ER+/PR-, HER2-
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Sep 8, 2010 03:04PM musiclovermom wrote:

Hey Ladies!

I have not been on line for about 2 months and just happened to check in today!

Just to update you on my dating: 

I met a man before I had my nipple reconstruction and told him about my breast cancer. He is very supportive and loving. I met him on match.com

I went with the skin grafted method. I almost miss having my X marks the spot scars. BUT the new nips make me look good in clothes.

In any case, this man is fantastic! I am so happy and content with him.

The cancer crap has not even been an issue. The night I told him I had no nipples he was a little confused until I explained that I had both breasts removed. He thought that I only had the nipples removed.

I had the best time dating and went on many dates each week. Once I found this man I continued to date but my heart was not in it. As soon as we talked about being exclusive, I got off match.com but would recommend it to anyone.

I have been seeing him for 4 months and he has seen me before and after my nipple reconstruction. He has been so wonderful about everything. He has met some of my cancer friends and knows I go to support group. He is amazed at what we go through.

What each man taught me was that they are ok with our cancer crap as long as we are okay - I am lucky enough to be happier and healthier than before I found my breast cancer.

YOU NEED TO FIND YOUR OWN HAPPINESS BEFORE YOU CAN EXPECT SOMEONE TO MAKE YOU HAPPY.

Living my life for myself is the best thing I can do.

I think that being happy is attractive and not caring about the small stuff is a bonus. I realized that stuff is not going to make me happy... I have too much stuff. What I needed was a person to love and have them love me in return.

I would like to think I have found that but know nothing is forever - right now I am enjoying life and do not expect anything. I am just loving being in love right now. 

Dx 7/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Sep 9, 2010 01:25AM Sexy-bald-chemo-girl wrote:

Well... I'm glad that I'm not the only one struggling through this dating stuff. I started dating someone a few months ago and shortly after we started dating... he started backing up and acting afraid. I never thought it was about me and my cancer but mostly about him and his divorce but now... I'm starting to wonder whether it will always be this way.

 I am back to being scared again. But... seems to be par for the course. I'm so tired of all of this.

40, no kids, never been married... How is this fair? Dx 7/28/2008, IDC, 2cm, Stage IIIA, ER+, HER2+
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Sep 28, 2010 01:48PM musiclovermom wrote:

Hey Ladies!

I am still seeing the same man and very happy being happy!

Sex is getting better and better! I certainly miss my nipple sensations but there are always other ways to get turned on and I am thinking that they have become heightened since I lost a big errogenous zone. Just kissing my neck has become a turn on... I am trying new things as often as I can and love it!

I love this man and he has made me feel so good about myself.

Big Hugs!

Dx 7/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Oct 21, 2010 02:39PM - edited Aug 20, 2013 05:59AM by iffy97

I haven't even gotten to the dating part yet. My husband passed away last year. I'm 61 and I think it's time for me to confront my lousy body image....I had a lumpectomy in 1997 and I've hate my mis-matched breasts. The lumpectomy one has a crater in the center with the nipple peaking out. And for some reason the 'healthy' one has decided to grow bigger to compensate.  Weird. 

I just joined this forum today, so I apologize for having written this same message twice (I started a new topic about body image). But it's all here really. I joined because I saw an article that said there is now reconstructive surgery for lumpectomies. I wonder if that can be PART of a solution for me: to be able to look at myself and not see that damn crater.  

Dx 12/10/1997, IDC, 2cm, Stage IA, 2/15 nodes
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Oct 21, 2010 04:00PM musiclovermom wrote:

iffy97 - from what i understand you can go back and have reconstruction at any time to achieve symmetry because of cancer and insurance has to pay for it. I would consult a plastic surgeon after having an updated mammogram!

Dx 7/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Oct 21, 2010 06:35PM Fearless_One wrote:

Yes, I believe insurance has to cover anything post-lumectomy as well as post-mastectomy reconstruction.

lump/chemo/rads/hyster-ooph/mastectomy/implants
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Oct 26, 2010 09:10PM kathleenm wrote:

Hi everyone. I am fairly new on here. I had a left mastectomy with reconstruction. The nipple did not stay attached which still bothers me. I think the cancer experience made me realize even more that I did want to find the love of my life. I'm 49 with two young adult children. I went through my treatments alone as others on here have also. I started putting more effort into working out and began to feel better about myself. I've started online dating. I've had three dates so far. I went out with one guy about four times. After I told him about the cancer he seemed fine with it. We had one more date and he booked. I guess that was our sympathy date. I'm still searching and there are alot of men out there. I'm just going to continue to meet men and hope I find the love I'm looking for. What really scares me is the thought of sex and not knowing how I've changed physically. I recently attended a discussion about cancer and intimacy and it was very informative. Hopefully the information is useful sometime in the future! I hope you all find the love you are hoping for. Remember we're courageous and way better than any man who walks away because of our breasts.

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Oct 28, 2010 03:44PM musiclovermom wrote:

Kathleenm - I am so sorry that your date was not the man you were hoping for. I went on over 50 dates and it was easier to decide what I did not want in a man vs what I was really looking for. I went out with the out look that I was going to meet people, not find the love of my life - in the process I did find a wonderful man who seems to be the love of my life. I had no expectations for our date and it was fantastic! I kept on dating after I met him but evey one I met made me like him more and more. After a few weeks I stopped looking and focused on him. We are exclusive now and I am loving being happy!

Go out have fun and enjoy being alive and healthy!

Dx 7/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Oct 28, 2010 07:13PM Fearless_One wrote:

I hear a lot about single ladies telling guys on the 3rd or 4th date about their BC.  Personally, I think that is way too soon - at least for me it would be.    Just my 2 cents worth.

lump/chemo/rads/hyster-ooph/mastectomy/implants
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Oct 29, 2010 12:33AM kathleenm wrote:

I think the timing of letting a guy know about the cancer depends on the situation and you just have to go with what feels right at the time.  

Congratulations musiclovermom! I'm always happy to hear someone has found their love! I've been talking to someone new on the phone from match.com. He seems very nice and we're meeting on Sunday for a bagel and tea. 

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Nov 1, 2010 08:44AM musiclovermom wrote:

I agree with kathleenm on the timing!

I didn't say anything about it until I was ready to be intimate... then I had to tell him I had no nipples! OMG that was the weirdest thing ...

He said it explained why I never looked cold! LOL On our first date it was cold at the end of the evening and I had on a white tank top... no signs there! ha ha ha...

I guess a lot of it depends on where you are in your treatment too. If treatment is a big part of your day to day life or if you are past it and just on maintenance. 

I had breast cancer... it's not who I am.

p.s. How was the Bagel & Tea?

Dx 7/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Nov 1, 2010 05:59PM gingersfavorite1 wrote:

I think you did well.    I expect you'll hear back from him.   Let us know either way - ok?

Stephanie ~
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Nov 1, 2010 06:02PM - edited Aug 20, 2013 06:04AM by Fearless_One

Hadly, I am sorry he didn't call.   I would have said "I don't want to talk about it yet" instead of saying "female problems", but we are all different in what we want to say and when to say it.  

For what it's worth, he may just be a flake, anyways - his not calling may have had nothing to do with what you said.  

I"m really starting to lose a lot respect for guys, though, after hearing about the way some of you ladies are being treated after revealing your medical history.   It's just amazing to me.   I would never not date a man because he had cancer.

lump/chemo/rads/hyster-ooph/mastectomy/implants
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Nov 2, 2010 12:44PM musiclovermom wrote:

Hadley - It puts all health issues into perspective don't you think???

Men after 40 are dealing with heart issues, cholesterol, diabetes, high blood pressure and lets not forget erectile dysfunction...

My cancer was easy compared to all the other health issues going on.

If a man is so shallow that he eliminates someone with cancer - what will happen to him when he gets prostrate cancer????

I am sorry you had this experience - it sucks but you are worth so much more! 

Congratulations on your DIEP! hope you are happy with the results!

I am also on Tamoxifen - just past my one year on it.

Kimberly

Dx 7/21/2009, IDC, 1cm, Stage II, Grade 3, 0/6 nodes, ER+/PR+, HER2-
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Dec 5, 2010 10:01PM Fearless_One wrote:

Bump...I would like to hear more from the single ladies.....

lump/chemo/rads/hyster-ooph/mastectomy/implants
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Apr 18, 2011 12:00AM Fearless_One wrote:

Bump....I don't want to date until I get my exchange and my nipples, but I sure wonder how I am going to bring it up to someone or when.....or how they will react to it.  

But men are men, and it will be a dealbreaker for some of them, I am prepared for that.  

lump/chemo/rads/hyster-ooph/mastectomy/implants

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