There is life, but is there happiness?

There is life, but is there happiness?

There is life, but is there happiness? My mastectomy was 2 years ago but I still can’t even bear to say the word. I cannot think about it without being appalled so I try to push the thoughts away and replace them with other thoughts. I read so many inspiring stories of women who go through this and lead wonderful lives. This makes me feel pathetic because I haven’t got over it. I don’t sit around moping and if you asked people they would say I am cheerful and busy. But I hurt so bad because of my body and what I have lost. Is there anyone out there who can tell me truthfully that you can get over this? And can you, honestly, have a satisfying sex life with one of the most important parts missing? Or not? And if not, can you get over that?

not sure I don’t think I’ve got over it either, but to some extent I don’t want to. I do feel that I’m not the person I once was. I didn’t have a mastectomy but I do feel I’ve ended up with a misshapen breast and a lopsided look which I’d rather not have. I also mourn the loss of that innocent belief that I was going to live forever.

But no one else can change how you feel so I suppose we all have to take responsibility for ourselves and making the best of our situation. No one has a perfect life, no one else has a perfect body even those with two of everything. Many people are able to be happy with what may appear to be less favourable circumstances than others.

I now live for myself and care less about trivia. I have kept my sex life going as have many other women with or without mastectomies. It’s not always easy but it can be done.


Oh snowwhite

Poor you, I only had my mastectomy in January this year and willl totally admit that I was and still am devastated by losing my breast. It’s so strange as I didn’t even have a particular love for my breast beforehand either… They aren’t/wern’t the best shaped, biggest or firmest boobs (having been round the block for 41 years) but I still loved them both and wanted desperately to keep it that way. That was the one reason I decided to choose chemo first for my tumour, knew it was a gamble and that I may have mastectomy if no responce, but I did get full response and they still hacked off my boob!

My way of coping with this is very similar to yours, I try not to look at the scar too much, I don’t poke the area or even refer to it. I refuse to wear that god damn awful prosthesis they have given me, I have been fitted out for a new bra and it still looks smaller than the original one! It looked so wrong that they couldn’t actually find a bra that fitted the prosthesis and my own boob the same, so I am stuck with a bra that continually moves across my front so I am ‘skew wiff’. So what’s the point in wearing a bra when my prosthesis is moving northeasterly all the time???

I can though say that my hubby has been wonderful, our sex llife has not really changed that much. He is so very worried that he will hurt my chest if he rests against me, but slowly he is getting used to the fact that I can’t feel anything there. So luckily I do not have any problems in that respect. I do not think about the part that’s missing during sex.

I agree with mole and that I now live for myself and care less about trivia and for me I don’t care what people think about my body image.

I hope you do manage to come to terms with your concerns, I don’t know how you make yourself fell better. My own coping mechanism is to just forget what’s happened, it doesn’t always work though!

Luv Lynn x

Peer Support Dear Snowwhite

Firstly, I would like to welcome you to the forums where I know you will receive lots of support and advice.

I am sorry you are experiencing these feelings, but this is a common reaction to your surgery and treatment. you may be interested in Breast Cancer Care’s peer support service. The purpose of the service is to put you in touch with someone who has personal experience of breast cancer. They have been trained to listen and offer emotional support and further information.

We do our best to match you with someone who has similar experiences and issues as yourself and who therefore understands what is most important to you. I have given the link to this service below:

I do hope you find this service useful.

Kind regards

Forum Host
Breast Cancer Care

You are not pathetic! You have had a chunk of womanhood taken from you, so don’t put yourself down. You are not pathetic.

I chose mastectomy with immediate recon. It has worked very well for me. I do not feel I have lost my boobs, I feel as if I have gained an improved pair.

Have you investigated your recon options yet?

I note that you live in London but that is all the information re: your profile.

Look after yourself and stay in touch


Bits of your body, however beautiful are not YOU. And although we are the sum of our parts we don’t cease to be human beings because of a mastectomy.
Do try to get the idea that you you yourself are the important genuine article and that a bit of anatomy more or less [occasionally ladies have 3 boobs] makes no difference.
When I had my mast it was easy because I was old. But still felt miz and used to comfort myself by thinking now I am an Amazon and amazon ladies are STRONG- sounds pretty feeble but it got me through.
Sex is sex and love encompasses all- the missing tit doesn’t exclude you.
Time to revalue yourself in the direction of UP. Best wishes, dilly

I think its ocmplicated Well I hate all those inspiring stories and people who claim their lives are wonderful after breast cancer. I think such stories are half truths which only serve to make the rest of us feel guilty and inadequate and trivialise the experience of living with breast cancer and the tragedy which awaits those who die prematurely of this awful disease. I actually find magazines like BCC’s Vita which carry stories of happy smiling women rather depressing cause I can’t possibly live up to the noble expectations they set.

So snowhite I don’t think you are the least unusual and I reckon its just fine to find it hard living after and with breast cancer. I haven’t found ‘losing’ my breast particularly traumatic and I still feel just about OK about myself sexually (though in my 50s I’m much less interested anyway in sex than in younger days)…for me the knowledge of having a disaese which may recur and may kill me (unpleasantly) and living with that is the issue. But we all find different parts of this horrid disease hard.

Because of cancer my life is now different…I gave up full-time work…I moved out of London…and those changes have both brought me great pleasure and yes happiness. I’m pretty proud of being a grumpy old cancer survivor who just tries her best to do the best I can with what I’ve got. For me 3 years marked a bit of a turning point and it has been easier since (I’m 6 months on from 3 years now) and I maybe it will for you too.

very best wishes


Hiya Jane,
Just wanted to say I could’nt agree with you more.
I also find the survivors stories hard going, especially when they say that having cancer has changed their life for the better and they are glad it happened.
Good luck to them if it’s true but I just don’t see it.
As you said in your post living with the fear of the sh***y thing coming back, and the awful ending that goes with it certainly keeps me awake at night…
Yes none of us lives forever and we’ve all got to die, but bloody hell what an awful way to go.
Sorry! On that happy note I shall sign off :slight_smile:
Keep plodding on snow white ( what else can you do?)
Best Wishes
Linda xx

Here Here Jane… -couldn’t agree more.

Snowhite,my altered body image, the loss of my peace of mind, my certain knowledge that I would die an old lady, peacefully in my bed, and to know that I can never recover that peace and certainty , has been a very hard and bitter pill to swallow. There are countless numbers of us who , at some stage, feel as you do.

Thanks and keep coming Hi all
I’m really grateful to all you kind ladies who bothered to reply to me feeling terrible about the m-word. It helps to know others have gone/are going through it too.
I would still like to hear from someone, if there is anyone, who can truly tell me specifically that you can have good sex, even great sex, after this operation - because for me it seems as if it is all over; that part of my anatomy was terribly important and the machinery just does not seem to work without it.
I’ve read the booklets and they miss the point: it is not that I feel ugly or unaccaptable. I don’t. I didn’t before and I don’t now. What has gone wrong is much simpler than that. I can’t function without a vital part of the mechanism. Is there anyone at all out there who can understand that and for whom there is no point in survival without this?

Depressed Dear Snowwhite,

i am truely concerned for you.

It is your head space that makes sex great or otherwise, not your breasts.

My sex life is now back on track, since I abandoned hormone treatment, which was making me seriously and dangerously depressed. Having sorted the head, the body has followed and I honesty have no complaints in that department.

Is it possible that you are clinically depressed? You have been through one heck of a lot so it might be worth talking to your GP about this.

I hope you find the right answers for you

Please look after yourself


Shock Dear Snowwhite

Just to add to Mrs Salmons comments. it sounds like you may still be in shock over all that has happened to you. Took me at least two years and lots of help with Counselling etc to get my head sorted.

After my mastectomy I felt very insecure for a long time. I compensated for not having a ‘real’ breast by growing my hair which had always been very short and generally becoming more girlie in other areas, dress, jewellry etc. I changed my image like ‘Madonna’ does every few years!.
I found this has helped me regain my sense of sexuality and with it my enjoyment of sex has been reawakened.

Please do not give up on yourself, you have been through a big trauma and get some help to talk through your feelings.

Good luck

Cath xx

i’m only six months post-op so i think i’m still coming to terms with the whole thing…i grieved intensely for my breast before the op and although the new boob looks great, it’s not the same. and i have to just STOP beating myself up about losing interest in sex…it seems particularly cruel because my partner and i had been together less than two years when this happened. however we’re still together and planning to get married this year, despite the sex drought! partner is very patient and accepting, i do feel guilty but i really just can’t think of my breasts as sexual organs any more and don’t want them touched, even the “normal” one. however…i have to be patient with myself and accept that it’s going to take a long time…i had a series of bereavements before diagnosis and everything happened so quickly that there wasn’t really time to react or work through it while it was happening. i do have down days - this is one of them! - but most of the time i feel OK…just need to get back to the gym and get the tamoxifen weight off…

the trauma of the cure Hi all
Really grateful for everyone’s comments, so helpful to talk even though I hate myself because I would like to see myself as cool, strong, capable, and when I see what I have said I am uncool, weak and despicable.

I don’t think I am clinically depressed - I’m definitely clinically angry, maybe depression comes next, followed by despair…anyway, as a result of posting on here have spoken to lovely lady from BCC in response to moderator’s message (I recommend doing this - it was cathartic, she was a superb listener) and have decided to seek counselling, so please don’t worry about me: I put things starkly because for me the way to get over a thing, if that is possible, is to see it for what it is rather than flinching away and using euphemisms, so I tend to say terrible things.

Catkin, you sound like me, I felt the same as you and two years on I can only say: it changes, it is a grief, grief is a process, a journey, and there’s no way out but through; I can’t say I’m through yet, but others seem to have come out and been able to put these things behind them, and I guess I am hoping to do that too, eventually. I am really glad for you that your man is a good man - this does seem to sort the grown-up men from the boys. You sound very much in touch with your feelings - all anyone can do is go with these and take one day at a time…

Heartfelt thanks to all for sharing the hurty stuff