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Nov 8, 2010 12:23PM
Fearless One, I love the very direct way that you've phrased your question, because in so many of the threads where there is a discussion about dating or sex with someone new after reconstruction, it's married women who respond. I read those responses and go "Huh? How does that relate to someone who isn't in a relationship at the time of their diagnosis?" For those who are married, it's wonderful that your DH still loves you and desires you (and I know that there are cases where that doesn't happen) but that's a world apart from meeting someone new after a diagnosis (and particularly, after a mastectomy) and having to broach the subject of breast cancer and mastectomies and reconstruction.
So, to your question, I am one who has found love since my diagnosis and treatment. I had been in a very long relationship but my SO passed away a few years before my diagnosis. I dated bit, saw one person on and off for a while, but there was never anything serious. I wasn't dating anyone at the time of my diagnosis. When I was diagnosed, I remember that I when I found out I would need to have a mastectomy, one of my very first thoughts was "I'll never have sex again!".
For about a year after my diagnosis, while I was going through reconstruction, I had no interest in dating. But during that time I did work my head around to the point of realizing that my mastectomy and reconstruction shouldn't matter - at least not to the "right" guy. The way I came to see it (but admittedly it took a while) was that my BC and reconstruction would be a quick way to weed out the jerks and the guys who aren't keepers. If it matters to someone, then this isn't a person who is worth my time.
As I came to the end of my reconstruction, I started to feel really good about myself. With my new slightly larger breasts (one reconstructed, one enhanced), in clothes I look better physically than I did before. I've always found that the best way to meet someone is to feel good about yourself and to exude self confidence. If you are not there mentally, there is no point in trying to meet someone because either you won't hit it off, or you'll connect with someone who isn't right for you for the long term. In my case, I met my new SO just by chance. There was a spark, we flirted, he followed up and the rest is history. I told him about my BC and mastectomy on the second date, just as a part of a casual conversion (no big serious sit down talk); I didn't want to waste my time with him if it was a game changer. It wasn't. We talked about it a bit more some time after that. When we become intimate, it made no difference at all. We've been together for a few years now and live together. He thinks I'm beautiful - and he's careful to remind me that he means all of me. (I think he's blind but that's another story! )
Certainly getting into a relationship is different once you've had BC and a mastectomy - there's a lot more to consider when you start dating. But thinking about it, one advantage that we have is that new lovers will never have seen us any other way, and they will see us naked for the first time at a time when they are the most interested. So that's not a bad thing.
My advice: Wait till you're ready. And then once you enter the dating field, remember that if someone runs off after you tell them about your BC and surgery, it's good that he ran off because obviously he wasn't worth your time anyway. The good guys and the right guys and the ones who will fall in love with you won't care.
Dx 9/15/05, DCIS-MI, 6cm+ Gr3 DCIS w/IDC microinvasion, Stage IA, 0/3 nodes, ER+/PR- “No power so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.” Edmund Burke