Do we ever get used to how we look?

I had a mascectomy in August, not come to terms with how I look. Cant get a recon.I still get a shock when I see myself in the mirror undressed. I was wondering what has helped other folk come to terms with living with one or no breasts. To be honest I feel like a freak at the moment.

Hi raonaid,
I too had an mx in August. I am hoping for a recon later in the year as long as I continue NED and am considered suitable for the DIEP procedure.
Do you mean you too cannot have a recon until later? or that you wanted an immediate? I was not allowed that either.
I have not found the mx too traumatic. Perhaps that is because I am older than you, at 52? I also have a lovely woman surgeon. she really helped me, even tho she did not say much. I felt she recognised the trauma of the whole b/c nightmare.
I am just philosophical about the loss of my breast. There are other things that would be more traumatic for me and that is my children being ill. I thank God every day it is me and not them. That is my ‘Mummmy’ perspective.
I also have a very supportive partner (after a awful 20yr relationship). He seems accepting of my loss of boob. I say seems - as far as I can tell.
It’s sad you feel like a freak, but I really understand how you can feel that way. However, I don’t think you are and many of my friends don’t think I am. but what is important here is how you feel.
It would be great if some counselling could help alleviate those feelings for you, if you can share them? I believe The Haven is very good here. If you live near Leeds or London.
Otherwise keep posting here to express, how you feel, or PM me and I will see if I can help further.

Hi I’m newly diagnosed with invasive lobular breast cancer insitu Left breast. Triple tests are negative for any other mets or secondaries, a second very very small (8mm) was picked up on MRI, having a core biopsy on 12th march and 1march march will meet with consultant to discuss treatment plan…i was told the cancer grade2, oestrogen positive and HER2 negative… I don’t know yet if I’m having lumpectomy or mastectomy, with radiotherapy or not…the waiting game is just awful as I have only told my best friend to date, not hubby or kids…how does one break news like that?..

Hi OMG, welcome to the BCC forums

I am sorry that you have had this news, I am sure your fellow users will be along shortly to support you and you may find it helps to speak to one of our helpliners, lines are open 9-5 during the week and 10-2 Sat on 0808 800 6000

The following links will take you to lots of support ideas and information which I hope you will find useful, there are two publications in particular which may be of help, one is about talking to your children and there is also one aimed at partners:\_source=Homepage&%3Butm\_medium=help\_you&%3Butm\_campaign=diagnosis

Take care


Raoniad, Wintersocks,
I had bilateral mastectomies in Feb when I was 42- with implant-but one the recontrsuctions failed due to inflection so I have one flat side, as it were, and one implant. I was devestated when the reconstruction failed and surprised at the extent of my feelings (I thought I had said good bye to my breasts when I had the original surgery). It was like a bereavement. I have though got a bit more used to how I look, though I don’t like it at all. I think what helped me most was hearing from other women and how they coped and knowing I was not alone. Like you, I am not sure if I could have reconsruction (I had poor healing due to rads).
There are a few books which helped me- ‘why I wore lipstick to my mastecomy,’ the boodica within’, if you put ‘the scar project’ into google you will come across a project in America. I think somehow we need to reclaim our femininity and sexuality. I find I make more of an effort with make-up and image than before (though finding clothing that suits me is not easy).
I really admire women like you Wintersocks. Because the mx has bothered me, I felt like I was vain whereas I try to say to myself now that its normal to have a reaction to losing a part of your body.
Like wintersocks, would say the Haven is great and also if you have a Maggies. There is a lot of support out there. Use it!
OMG- sending you a big, virtual hug. It is such a shock. I would ring the BCC helpline and have a chat with them on how to talk to your husband and children. I have found its best to take people on the journey with me but we all cope differently. It is the hardest bit. Once you have a treatment plan, you will feel better.
OMG - you will get many more responses if you post in ‘newly diagnosed.’ This is a fairly quiet thread. BCC- can you help at all?
Let us know if we can be of any help. Rattles x

I cant come to terms with my mx either cant look at it i too feel a freak. I wish i could be more logical .
jenny x

I also think of myself as a freak, I cope well during the day when I am dressed, but when I take my clothes off my bilateral mx scars ( no recon) and dog ears under my arms ( I was a 36E) repulse me. I am 2 years down the line, single and feel that if I have difficulty accepting how I look naked then how on earth could I expect a man to want me. I also find it hard at the moment as I have secondaries and try not to think about the cancer between onc apps but nearly every night there are ‘adverts’ on tv about cancer so I can’t even lose myself in a programme. I see other women showing their cleavage when out and about and I mourn the loss of my breasts. However I am so grateful to be alive :slight_smile:

Yes those adverts are coming thick and fast and i find them difficult to deal with.
jenny x

Hi there ,
I had my mx nov 2011 again im a little older than you 54yrs I have come to terms with my mx ,It all takes time i think i turned the corner at my first anniversary .I was never ever happy with my left boob and was glad to see it and my cancer gone .The surgeon that did my radical mx did a wonderful job i have a very neat scar no lumps or bumps nurses etc have all commented on how neat it is for a mx scar .As for reconstruction I have now deceided not to go for it at the moment the reasons for this I am /was ample busted 34g they cant use my back muscle as i have no fat to the back they cant use an implant as i have minimal chest muscle left so that leaves my belly now there is almont enough of that UMMMM in order to do the mx i have to have a tummy tuc not a bad idea but then i would have 2 wounds i would then need lipo and several appointment to fill in my dent as i call it appox 7 to 8 infill s(so deep that i can watch my hear beat )so more wounds and anesetic i would then also need a reduction on my left breast ,there is only so much a body can take . just views from my own experience .I have a friend that had a mx 10 yrs ago went withot recon for the 10 yrs and then deceided to have it done . so who knows
take care Lizzy

I totally agree about those adverts! I know that we need to raise awareness and encourage people to donate but I don’t think that the people making those adverts have given US the people who actually are going through this a second thought!! That needs to change I can’t watch them they upset me.
I feel very lucky as I only had lumpectomy, even though it was quithe a large tumour and also had 9 infected lymph nodes all removed! Am due to start chemo on Friday and rads to follow that but I have a very lving husband and couldnt face this journey without him. My ct scan showed nodules on my lungs which is scary as I have to wAit 6 months and then be scanned again to check for changes, I find the whole thing terrifying and just wish it would all go away!!! Xx

Like Milo I’ve got double mastectomy scars and those horrible dog ears under my arms - in fact it’s the dog ears that bother me the most: one of them looks like a little breast under my arm. Maybe if they could be removed I could accept my breast free chest. I’m a 15 months down the line from my first mx and 3 months down the line from my second mx and I expected to cope better than I am. It’s better being flat rather than lopsided but I still hate it. The ‘adverts’ on TV make me cry sometimes but they don’t upset me because I think most of them are very well done.

‘‘Those’’ ads are up-setting my son…he goes very quiet.I guess I better talk to him.I got off comparatively lightly nearly 2 years ago -choosing a left mastectomy meant no other treatment except Tamoxifen and my scar is impressive .’ Very Piraty ',I joke … I did my best to be up-beat about the whole thing-I cringe now when I think of my super-positive posts !!! I feel like a freak too , lets face it . I’ve bought baggy tops and fold my arms alot.I can spot other BC ladies by that particular posture!And when I do I feel very warmly towards them , I certainly DON"T think they are freaks!!
So …I’ve been single for years and now , to my amazement and part horror there is a very appealing man around . I’ll tell people at a bus stop about the BC but telling him fills me with dread. I can’t keep him at arms length much longer.And whats all this I’ve read about Tamoxifen ‘‘changing’’ your Downstairs with phrases like 'use it or loose it ’ being bandied about!!!

Wintersocks I cant get a recon cause I had bc 5 years ago and had rads and now I am having to have it over the same area again .

Hugs to you.
I had my left side mx in June 2012. My partner has struggled a bit and it is actually his reaction that I hsve struggled the most with. I sat down after chemo finished and wrote a list of what I didn’t like about the whole situation and that has helped me loads. I realised many things were temopary (hair, nails etc) so nothing to worry about.
Top of the list is being lopsided and the prothesis is second. Third is being out of control. So, I am taking control and have decided to petition for the other one off. I may not win the arguement, but I will keep on trying. I dont want the pain and risks of recon. My boobs never defined who I am before, and they wont now either. This is easy to say as I am older (57), in a 35 year old marriage and have seen my family grow up and take their reins.
Talking to hubby, he explained that when he sees the scar he is reminded of what I went through. That is different to being repulsed - it is a reminder that he cares. Scars from recon will be bigger so I cant see I would gain from that. Life would be more comfortable flat, no prothesis unless I choose to wear it, clothes I can trust too.
I was told 1 in 8 women are affected by this disease. that means 12.5 % of the female population have the battle scars. That makes me one of quite a number of strong women who are determined to come through it. Given a choice I would be as I was. That was not an option so I am determined to be the best I can be! I have hed a lot of silent tears to get to this point, but they really didn’t get me very far and I didnt want to get stuck psycologically after fighting so hard physically. I will have regret days but will remind myself what could have been if I hadn’t acted.
Don’t think of it as freakish, it is a positive statement that you are a fighter!

KahrenQ I identify with you on the ‘not being stuck psycologically’ what you say is so true. Perhaps I am feeling the way I do because I did not have the choice for recon and with this disease I’ve found its feeling like I am not in control anymore thats one of the big things thats hard for me, the doctors, nurses or the treatment itself dictates what will happen to my body. When I was told recon was not an option because of the damage to the tissues having rads for the 2nd time will do, I felt like a way to heal myself and get over this was taken from me. It sounds a bit crazy but I have to find another way to take control of my body again to heal myself, to make choices. I like the idea of doing the list, I am going to try that.

Hope what I wrote didn’t sound too forthright - that is the mindset I am in at the moment. I don’t know how I will feel if it comes back or spreads. I think I will feel angry, frightened, despondent for a while but I hope I will give myself a shake and remember what I wrote!
The list was very therapeutic and it has been the first time in nearly a year I feel I can take some control. In a way I miss the 3 weekly trips to hospital (my remaining treatment is home based herceptin) as I would turn up there feeling sorry for myself, then see people in a far worse place and come out feeling guilty for my thoughts. I hope you find something from the list to help you.
The whole body image thing is huge but we have to grieve for what was before we can move on. When people grieve, part of the process includes feeling powerless and getting angry and I can relate to that as something
I have been through. I have never had a good figure especially after 4 kids, never been pretty so I didn’t have a great body image to start with. That said, I have been happy with who I am (wife, mum, work colleague etc) and have met some wonderful people. Perhaps that has helped a bit. I did the anger and the powerlessness and I am moving on. I hope you do too.
Hugs and keep your chin up!
PS As we get older boobs move south anyway, perhaps we can say ours have migrated!

Hi all,
I had a bilateral in 2008, and I had my dog ears taken care of in 2011, after that I felt a lot happier with my shape. The sight that really affects me is the discolouration and surface blood vessels where I had Rads, it looks so ugly. I am happy to go without my boobs, depending on what I am wearing but equally I don’t mind too much strapping them on. What I find really hard is finding pretty dresses and tops that are not too low cut, everything seems to have V necks or very low scoops not good if you are wearing falsies!
love and hugs

Hi everyone,
I too hate to look in the mirror when undressed had a masectomy in August 2012. Now Im having radiotherapy, I am restricted to what I can wear as I cant stand my bra on so that means so flat chested!! At the moment wearing a cami vest with the spongy thing given after surgery and a loose top!! Look with envy at other woman with both boobs having treatment with me and must of only had minor ops. Whats worse they have hair and eyelashes too which I dont yet
I feel so low some days, I was looking at holiday snaps from just last May when I had long blonde hair two boobs sat in my bikini!! Its hard to believe that what was going to happen just two months later. In July I had the first op feeling quite strong after the shock until that dreaded pathology report, a masectomy, chemo and rads I thought I would never get through it Hoping for a reconstruction but maybe up to two years wait. Raonaid I can really feel for you bad enough having cancer twice without no reconstruction at the end as well.I am fed up of those ads too cancer ones hair products and perfect bodies!!!

Oh i know how you feel i just cant look at myself and thodse ads Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.
jenny x

Dear All,
I had my MX left side 5 years ago aged 39. I have been asked many times why I haven’t had recon, it’s a hard one to answer really apart from ‘hey it’s my war wound’ and for me I’m proud to wear it and grateful to be alive.
I had a hell of a ride through my treatment and after that I just wanted to try and get back to doing some of the things I used to do prior to treatment. I felt that another massive bit of surgery just wasn’t for me and would hold me back getting on.
It’s a personal thing…one boob or two…I’ve choosen one (and a fake one)…and still 5 years down the line sometimes I look down and think where’s that gone!
Best wishes everyone.