Breast Cancer and Sex, from a husband perspective
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Sex in Marriage Sexual problems are common in many relationships. This section is for discussions about sexuality. Please limit discussions to those asking for help with a problem and those offering advice. Any other threads may be deleted.

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Old 03-01-2012, 01:46 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Breast Cancer and Sex, from a husband perspective

Hello all

I google and I google over and over to try and find people with a similar problem as mine, with few relevant results (just a study made in an asian country). Found this forum 1h ago, and decided to try.

I'm 27, my wife 26. 2 years ago my wife was diagnosed breast cancer. She was treated, made a mastectomy, on one breast and so far so good. All the test in the past 6 month have been positive.

However, we spent a lot of time without sex, and we tried to start all over, with catastrophic results. Sex is real bad.

I feel like a scumbag writing, or even thinking this, but I'm a bit desperate here.

I love her with all my heart, I like to be with her, I like her company, she is terrific. However she wants to return to sex, and I don't feel any sexual drive. She gained a lot of weight, she still hasn't done the plastic surgery... And I've been with her all the way, I saw the wound, I shaved her head, I passed cream over the scar...

I don't know if my general feelings are of a coward or of a scumbag who expected his wife to be some hot babe.

She was very direct, and one day asked if I found her ugly if I lost interest in her. I lied, of course. But the fact is that probably I did.

Has anyone lived such an experience? How do you cope with that?
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Old 03-01-2012, 06:34 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Breast Cancer and Sex, from a husband perspective

Hi doublejohn ~

I'm sorry that you and your wife are going though this - and at such young ages. I can only imagine how difficult that is.

You know what - I don't think anybody can really say anything bad about how you feel. You feel what you feel, and when you go through a traumatic, life-changing event like you and your wife have, you can't predict how that will make you feel. Don't beat yourself up over how you feel.

Have you looked into any support groups for cancer survivors and their spouses? It might help to be able to talk with other husbands who have gone through the same ordeal. You may find that they have had a lot of similar emotions and feelings that you have.

Here's also a really great book, just for husbands in your situation, that may be helpful to you:

Amazon.com: Breast Cancer Husband: How to Help Your Wife (and Yourself) during Diagnosis, Treatment and Beyond (9781579548339): Marc Silver: Books

Sending thoughts and prayers your way.

Best wishes.
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Old 03-02-2012, 10:45 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Breast Cancer and Sex, from a husband perspective

Quote:
Originally Posted by doublejohn View Post
Hello all

I google and I google over and over to try and find people with a similar problem as mine, with few relevant results (just a study made in an asian country). Found this forum 1h ago, and decided to try.

I'm 27, my wife 26. 2 years ago my wife was diagnosed breast cancer. She was treated, made a mastectomy, on one breast and so far so good. All the test in the past 6 month have been positive.

However, we spent a lot of time without sex, and we tried to start all over, with catastrophic results. Sex is real bad.

I feel like a scumbag writing, or even thinking this, but I'm a bit desperate here.

I love her with all my heart, I like to be with her, I like her company, she is terrific. However she wants to return to sex, and I don't feel any sexual drive. She gained a lot of weight, she still hasn't done the plastic surgery... And I've been with her all the way, I saw the wound, I shaved her head, I passed cream over the scar...

I don't know if my general feelings are of a coward or of a scumbag who expected his wife to be some hot babe.

She was very direct, and one day asked if I found her ugly if I lost interest in her. I lied, of course. But the fact is that probably I did.

Has anyone lived such an experience? How do you cope with that?
You and your wife have just gone through an incredibly traumatic event. You're also so young to have experienced such a major health crisis at this stage of your life. It's understandable that things are not what they used to be. Also it's understandable since a part of her body that was so central to her sexuality was surgically removed (for good reasons of course), sex is different at first. I don't fault you for the emotions you're feeling. What you seem to need is support so that you won't feel alone. A lot of health groups are geared to the person who has the condition. So few are aimed at the spouses and family and they also need support. Without knowing where you live, it's hard to give specific advice about support groups. Call the major medical hospitals in your area. In big cities these days, there are often people at the hospital who can help a counsel spouses of cancer survivors. You might look at
Cancer Support Community to find a group in your area. The American Cancer Society (if you're in America) has support groups too and they can direct you to groups in your area.

While I don't advocate lying, I think you did the right thing. A little white lie to spare your wife's feelings isn't wrong.

Is she planning to have reconstruction? I couldn't tell if she started the tissue expander process or not. Some women choose to wait. Some start immediate reconstruction in the same operation as the mastectomy. It's an individual choice of course, but psychologically it's easier to wake up with the tissue expander in place than look at flat skin with a big scar.

My thoughts are with you...wishing you both healing and a good recovery.
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Old 03-04-2012, 02:17 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Breast Cancer and Sex, from a husband perspective

Actually I do work in a cancer hospital,(the irony, right? I got the job, and a few months latter she got cancer). I really should see someone about this. However I'm still gaining momentum to do the leap, and admit there is a big problem here. Part of me still thought that with time things would work itself out...

Anyway, thank you for your support.
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Old 03-04-2012, 04:35 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Breast Cancer and Sex, from a husband perspective

I wish you would answer her direct question honestly. How is lying to her ever going to change things? What do you have to lose by telling her the truth?

For most men the weight gain alone would be enough to kill sexual desire. In the book his needs her needs having an attractive wife is in the top 5 needs of men and you are no exception to that.
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Old 03-04-2012, 08:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Breast Cancer and Sex, from a husband perspective

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Originally Posted by Mavash. View Post
I wish you would answer her direct question honestly. How is lying to her ever going to change things? What do you have to lose by telling her the truth?

For most men the weight gain alone would be enough to kill sexual desire. In the book his needs her needs having an attractive wife is in the top 5 needs of men and you are no exception to that.
From what the OP said, his issues are not just about the weight. She can lose the weight but she cannot do much about missing body parts.

Much of this probably is not only about looks but about him experiencing a very real change in the way he preceives his wife. Catastrophic events like this often profoundly change people.
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Old 09-08-2012, 11:54 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Doublejohn, thanks for posting this topic. I too have been through a masectomy and cancer treatment with my wife. I was looking for some information on the internet when I found your post. My wife and I are in our forties but had a great sex life before the surgery and chemo. Now I have real trouble getting aroused by her, and she is a good sport but not nearly as interested as she used to be. I feel like my sex life has been taken away from me. On a scale of 1 to 10, we have gone from an 8 in the bedroom to about a 2.

I thought this might happen over the next 40 years as we got old, but I was unprepared for it to happen overnight. I read some posts about Tamoxifen (hormone suppressor drug) and it has some real negative side effects on peoples sex lives. I think it is some of the problem. For me, even though she has nicely reconstructed breasts, looking at them too closely or touching them reminds me of all the pain and trauma that we went through. There are parts of the surgery and recovery that I remember much more vividly than her. But beyond that, she no longer seems to have that sexiness that made her so wildly attractive to me. I think a lot of it is hormonal.

The worst is that it seems like her annoying habits (we all have them of course) wear on me a lot more now that I am not in constant awe of her sexiness. I am coping with a sex life that is a 2, and I think we will be ok. But I sure miss the days of the raw passion that we had. My wife's hair is now different, her skin is different, (breasts are different of course), she smells different, and she is somehow decidedly less feminine. I still tell her she is attractive, and whistle at her, and pat her bottom. But we have definately lost something. For a while I thought there might be something wrong with me since I was having trouble completing the act. But now I'm pretty sure it has more to do with her. Good thing we made hay while the sun was shining (21 years), because now it is the rainy season.
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Old 09-09-2012, 12:30 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Breast Cancer and Sex, from a husband perspective

DJ,
I like that you right with such honesty and directness. You have both been through a terrible ordeal.

I think you need to try to show your wife physical love because she is your wife.

And I think you are also entitled to try to make this easy on yourself. It is ok to:
- Have the lights dim - or use candles
- Have a couple glasses of wine
- While you get started, think back to how your W looked at the beginning

If your W is offended by the lights, you just use a soft tone and say "baby, this has been a rough go, lets be romantic and gentle with each other".

And you need to start going on walks together and get the junk food out of the house. Stick with the phrase "I want US to be healthy and fit, lets do it together".

If she presses you about the fat - just laugh and say "you are alive, now lets both exercise to be healthy".

Quote:
Originally Posted by doublejohn View Post
Hello all

I google and I google over and over to try and find people with a similar problem as mine, with few relevant results (just a study made in an asian country). Found this forum 1h ago, and decided to try.

I'm 27, my wife 26. 2 years ago my wife was diagnosed breast cancer. She was treated, made a mastectomy, on one breast and so far so good. All the test in the past 6 month have been positive.

However, we spent a lot of time without sex, and we tried to start all over, with catastrophic results. Sex is real bad.

I feel like a scumbag writing, or even thinking this, but I'm a bit desperate here.

I love her with all my heart, I like to be with her, I like her company, she is terrific. However she wants to return to sex, and I don't feel any sexual drive. She gained a lot of weight, she still hasn't done the plastic surgery... And I've been with her all the way, I saw the wound, I shaved her head, I passed cream over the scar...

I don't know if my general feelings are of a coward or of a scumbag who expected his wife to be some hot babe.

She was very direct, and one day asked if I found her ugly if I lost interest in her. I lied, of course. But the fact is that probably I did.

Has anyone lived such an experience? How do you cope with that?
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Old 09-09-2012, 12:34 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Breast Cancer and Sex, from a husband perspective

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Doublejohn, thanks for posting this topic. I too have been through a masectomy and cancer treatment with my wife. I was looking for some information on the internet when I found your post. My wife and I are in our forties but had a great sex life before the surgery and chemo. Now I have real trouble getting aroused by her, and she is a good sport but not nearly as interested as she used to be. I feel like my sex life has been taken away from me. On a scale of 1 to 10, we have gone from an 8 in the bedroom to about a 2.

I thought this might happen over the next 40 years as we got old, but I was unprepared for it to happen overnight. I read some posts about Tamoxifen (hormone suppressor drug) and it has some real negative side effects on peoples sex lives. I think it is some of the problem. For me, even though she has nicely reconstructed breasts, looking at them too closely or touching them reminds me of all the pain and trauma that we went through. There are parts of the surgery and recovery that I remember much more vividly than her. But beyond that, she no longer seems to have that sexiness that made her so wildly attractive to me. I think a lot of it is hormonal.

The worst is that it seems like her annoying habits (we all have them of course) wear on me a lot more now that I am not in constant awe of her sexiness. I am coping with a sex life that is a 2, and I think we will be ok. But I sure miss the days of the raw passion that we had. My wife's hair is now different, her skin is different, (breasts are different of course), she smells different, and she is somehow decidedly less feminine. I still tell her she is attractive, and whistle at her, and pat her bottom. But we have definately lost something. For a while I thought there might be something wrong with me since I was having trouble completing the act. But now I'm pretty sure it has more to do with her. Good thing we made hay while the sun was shining (21 years), because now it is the rainy season.
She had her body radiated multiple times causing burns/scars in many places, lost her breasts, her hair, eyelashes, eyebrows, her vomit by the minute/hour. The pain riveting through her bones cannot be described in words. It is a pain so bad that labor is a treat. She is still trying to save her LIFE, something that every day she worries about and counts important events like her last and you ***** about your boner? YOUR sex life was taken away from you? What about hers? You say that her habits wear on you now that she is no longer hot. Everything you said about your wife with CANCER is a negative. She is no longer sexy except the nice new tits she got. You blame your lack of getting it up on your wife but hey, good thing you got it all in before she got cancer. You remember the surgery more than her?
Dra åt helvete.

Last edited by Therealbrighteyes; 09-09-2012 at 03:27 AM.
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Old 09-09-2012, 02:47 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Wow. I really hope I never get breast cancer.. even more so now after reading this.

I'm sorry you're going through this...
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Old 09-09-2012, 03:01 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Breast Cancer and Sex, from a husband perspective

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Originally Posted by doublejohn View Post
Actually I do work in a cancer hospital,(the irony, right? I got the job, and a few months latter she got cancer). I really should see someone about this. However I'm still gaining momentum to do the leap, and admit there is a big problem here. Part of me still thought that with time things would work itself out...

Anyway, thank you for your support.
Yes, you really should.
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Old 09-09-2012, 07:24 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Breast Cancer and Sex, from a husband perspective

At 40, my wife went through a mastectomy and 6 months of chemotherapy. Life changed, not just sex. It's been 18 years since and thank God we have each other still. Yes intimacy is as good as it was. It didn't happen over night, it took a long time. Bur everyday I made sure she knew I still wanted her. I knew having her heal physically and mentally had to come first, before we could enjoy intimacy again. You will get there too. She needs you now more than ever in her life. Do not be selfish and let your desires rule you. Empathy and patience.

Life is short. We never know what it brings. Do not take it for granted.

Last edited by anchorwatch; 09-09-2012 at 07:37 PM.
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Old 09-09-2012, 09:02 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I don't know mate, I understand the need for visual attraction but...

If this was to happen to my wife I wouldn't really be moved as I'm a lower body person. So I perhaps won't ever feel how you feel until she loses those sexy legs of hers. But... then again, the weight gain. I won't be able to fault her for that based on cancer, I would feel so disgusted with myself if I ever mentioned that considering what the hell my wife would be going through.

Regardless though, I love my wife enough that her body is indeed secondary. As long as she doesn't lose those deep immersive eyes or that voice of hers I will love her till the end of time. But doesn't mean that I won't be an ******* and not tell her off for being lazy and not working out!!!

It's a big change though mate, and it's something I can't really help you with =/
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Old 09-10-2012, 12:02 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Therealbrighteyes. Excuse me, I thought the title of this forum said "from a husband's perspective". Obviously you have the trump card and deserve all the sympathy, but that is not what we are talking about here. If you don't want to hear what the husband goes through then find a different forum. I've stuck with her through thick and thin and never complained (except here) so let me vent a little, huh?
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Old 09-10-2012, 06:54 PM   #15 (permalink)
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You have to understand, in my wife’s case she did not have any illness or any symptoms of cancer other than a very small lump in one breast. This was tested and as soon as she found out it was malignant she decided she should have a mastectomy. The doctors told her that her odds of contracting a fatal cancer from this were the same whether she had a lumpectomy or a mastectomy. I told her I liked her the way she was and wanted her to consider a lumpectomy. When an MRI found a second tiny spot in her other breast that also tested malignant, she would not consider any other option than a double mastectomy. Again the doctors left the decision up to her but said that having mastectomies did not improve her odds over lumpectomies. Ultimately it was her body and her decision and my opinion counted zero.

I recommended against the breast reconstruction. The Frankenboob look does not do anything for me sexually over the zippered pocket look of non-reconstructed breasts. Again my opinion did not enter into the decision. She had reconstruction done at the same time as the mastectomy because of her own vanity, not to please me. This resulted in 14 hours of surgery and many complications and follow-ups.

Again with the chemo, the specialists said that the chemo might improve her odds slightly, from like being 10% likely to die from cancer some day, to maybe like 5%, but it was very unsure. I recommended against it because of the real, measurable damage that chemo does as compared to this questionable advantage of going through it. Again my opinion was not a factor.

So now we are through the worst of this, and the party line is that the doctors saved her, and her reconstructed breasts look great. However, I have a different perspective. From my perspective the doctors took my healthy, lovely wife and mutilated the heck out of her. She has a scar two feet across on her belly, and a reconstructed belly button with some kind of weird mesh under her tummy. Her breasts are a mass of scars and while they look pretty good with clothes on, they are a frightful distraction during sex. Not only does she now look like the Bride of Frankenstein, but she now has a chemo numbed brain to match.

I don’t mean to belittle cancer as a disease, I lost my father to it recently and anyone fighting cancer has my most sincere respect. I just wonder in my wife’s case if the medical community had to go this extreme. My wife’s mother had a similar lump about this age that she had removed, and the mother is almost 90 now and has had no further problems. And yes, I’m sorry, but our experience with breast cancer did wreck our sex life. I also missed a career move that would have been important to me, and the medical costs have put us under financial duress. Not to mention the cancelled vacations and all the physical and mental stress we have endured during the medical treatment. Life is short, whether you are having any fun, or not. Ladies, please consider some of the impacts of taking the most conservative approach. The doctors don’t know everything. Every case is different.
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