Relationships after Mastectomy?!

I met my current partner during my breast cancer treatment.
I was going through a divorce also at the time and had a young 2yr old son with special needs.

Basically i don’t feel i can open up to my current partner and express how i’m feeling.I always cover up during intimate moments and don’t want it to be like this.
He knows i’m uncomfortable with the way i look and feel but we never discuss what i’ve been through or how i feel about myself most days.
I’m a person who likes to be open and upfront about things and just feel if i was in his shoes i’d be asking him the ins and outs and would not be ashamed to see how he looks.

My partner has seen my scars just once and that was only because i felt i was fed up of hiding away!!!

Is it normal for a partner to be like this???

Hi leah71,

While you’re waiting for replies from other forum users, I thought it might be helpful to post links to a couple of BCC’s publications just in case you hadn’t seen them:

In it together: for partners of people with breast cancer:

Sexuality, intimacy and breast cancer:

with best wishes,
Anna, BCC Facilitator

Hi Leah, sorry you’re feeling so glum.

I don’t think we can lump all partners into the same boat, as it’s more a question of whether not talking about stuff and asking about stuff is normal for him specifically, rather than for partners in general.

When you’ve had a doc’s appointment (non-BC) did he ever ask you about it, or did he wait for you to tell him? If you had any other health problems, even a headache, did he ask, or did you have to tell him? We can’t expect our other halfs to change to someone they’re not just because (please excuse the word “just”) we have cancer. My OH doesn’t ask me how I am (don’t think he ever has but I’ve only just this second realised that!), didn’t make any effort to look (or not look) at my scars though I only had WLE and not mastectomy, and doesn’t do touchy-feely or talking about emotions, but when I ask for a hug he always provides, unless he’s been working on his motorbike and is covered in oil!

What do you think he’d do if you told him you’d like to talk to him about how you’re feeling? How would you feel about saying that out loud to him? Would you feel awkward? Would you feel it relieved a bit of pressure or just added to it? I find it easier to talk to my OH about that kind of stuff when I really have to tell him something if we’re doing something else as well, like walking the dog or even just strolling round to the supermarket.

Have you asked him how HE feels about it all? It’s possible he’s been bottling up his own feelings, fears and worries in trying NOT to upset you or give you anything more to worry about but is actually very concerned and trying to “be strong” for you.

Regarding hiding your scars, is it because HE doesn’t want to see them, or because YOU don’t feel confident enough in yourself to show them? Did you normally take nudity in your stride in your pre-BC relationship or did you always wear nighties or pjs in bed? Our self-confidence gets hit by a steam-roller with cancer and the physical changes to ourselves - weight gain, baldness, exhaustion, aches and pains, mood swings with hormone therapy, the list goes on - no wonder we don’t have confidence in who we are and the bodies we are left with after all the treatment has done its worst!

I’m not expecting answers to any of the questions above, but it might be helpful for you to think about them, so you can answer your own question about whether it’s “normal”.

Though I have to say, for partners as well as for us the whole notion of “normal” is completely blown away with diagnosis, and blown even further with surgery and treatment.

Sorry, that turned into a bit of a ramble, but I hope it’s given you things to think about. Something else you might want to do is have a chat with the helpline. They’re here for all of us, whatever stage we’re at with our treatment, and they don’t judge but do understand.

Thank You for have given me a lot to think about.x

Hi Leah,

I know where you are coming from I think, but for me its more the way I feel about the way I look,
my partner of 14 years doesnt seem phased by my scar, but I cannot seem to bring myself to get undressed in front of him and find it increasingly difficult to be as intimate as we were before, I dont know whether this will change, we have talked about it though, I know it is me not him,
maybe if you could talk to your oh and explain to him he would understand.
Its so difficult isnt it? so much emotion and stuff going on you are probably trying to come to terms with everything yourself, I know I am I had mx last November,
I hope you manage to get through this problem I am sure you will given time.
best wishes Liz x

Leah, you said, “Is it normal for a partner to be like this???”

The thing is, in your OP, you spoke of *your* feelings towards your illness and body image. You didn’t actually state *anything* about what HE feels or reacts, other than to say that he knows that you feel uncomfortable.

You’ve said that you feel that you can’t open up to him. Why is that? Is it something he has said or done?

Best wishes.