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Same sex partner of woman with breast cancer - advice sought

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Member

Re: Same sex partner of woman with breast cancer - advice sought

Hi again Linzini,

I seemed to misunderstand your wording ref upsetting to see a partners breasts when they have had mastectomies. You meant the person with mastectomy to see her partners normal breasts after, so I'm editing my previous message below.  xxx

Member

Re: Same sex partner of woman with breast cancer - advice sought

Hi Linzini

I'm sooo glad you've popped back on. Much has happened then, since your Sept post and am glad she was allowed a Bi-lateral mastectomy, given her family history and concerns about. I hope she's been coping okay with chemo. Yes, a loooong slog journey for her, and for you too.

"Is it difficult for a lesbian woman when she sees her partner's breasts having lost or having cancer in her own?" Yes, 'I' found it upsetting. I still had a partner when I lost my first breast. Still having one breast made a huge difference, so it was relatively "easy" to get used to. She was great at putting me at ease, didn't make much difference to how she viewed me, physical attraction wise. But I'd wanted immediate recon, because I knew how badly it would affect me without. Didn't happen because of a miscommunication with the surgeon. Unlike your partner I didn't like losing my boobs, and wanted the loss of BOTH of them immediately replacing. I'd have coped sooo much better. I still find it upsetting looking at ANY woman WITH breasts ever since, but nowhere near as much. I'm a "boobs" woman if you like, loved my own, and like other women's. Some of that is envy 🙂 due to me not having any.

I haven't had a partner since losing my second, so a different situ to your partner. I mentioned earlier, it's one of the reasons I haven't got back onto the dating horse - just don't want to without boobs.  Embarked on recon 2014, 7 yrs after my ops and loss of both, due to major life problems. But haven't completed due to other further life brown stuff that's happened, and it's STILL on hold.  The only people who've ever seen me naked and totally boobless are my belated Mum (I was even uncomfey about that), medics, and my 'X' when we once shared a bath together. Who just said I looked "like a Teddy bear who'd lost some of my stuffing", bless. But we weren't in a relationship at that stage, just friends (who shared a bath once!!😀). I just don't like being "seen" by ANYone.

It's all dependent on how much YOU care and feel for HER, how comfortable YOU can make HER feel, and how YOU feel about it yourself?

Are you saying that you have you not yet SEEN your partner NAKED yet, since her surgery?? If not, is that because she's so conscious and sensitive, that she hasn't wanted you to see and you've just gone along with that? If you HAVEN'T yet seen her naked, have you ASKED her if you CAN? Gently and considerately, of course. Because if you haven't, that's the first major barrier for her to get over, so that she can BEGIN to feel more comfortable with her different body and self, and then be able to MOVE forwards, BOTH of you. 

You're gonna have to GENTLY feel your way, Linzini. How about trying it in the DARK first, so she won't feel so conscious. Her allowing you to gently and sensitively "feel" her difference with your hands, without the awkwardness of VISUALLY seeing her. Then slowly, gradually, and gently working at it from there, until she's more comfy with you SEEING her. You obviously need to make her feel she's still desirable, despite of, I would say and that IS me speaking from experience. I communicated how I felt awkward about it, with the first one, and my partner immediately put me at ease. 

I don't know of any specific gay female support following BC. You could try the Nurses call no. on here and ask them if they're aware of gay support. Or ask at her hospital where she's receiving treatment or MacMillan etc. There's plenty of "FLAT" on-line info - "Flat Friends" etc. regardless of sexuality. Many hetero women are quite happy to stay flat.

Take care of each other - Lots of love , Delly  xxxx

Member

Re: Same sex partner of woman with breast cancer - advice sought

Hi, and thanks to everyone who has replied.  On top of everything else I could not remember my password and it has taken me a while to sort out a reset.

The surgeon agreed my partner could have the double mastectomy she wanted, one being preventative . We are glad she did, the MRI scan showed the area of cancer to be 3x that thought in the CT (subsequently confirmed in the pathology report) and there was one node with cancer and one with cancerous cells. Nothing visible in other breast. She wishes to Go Flat, really FIRMLY doesn't want any reconstruction.  After a lot of discussion between us she has taken up the offer of prostheses in case she wants to avoid her flat profile drawing any attention, but doesn't really want to wear them or a bra.  We are now on the second cycle of chemo, and there will be radio and hormone treatment after this.  A long journey.

I don't doubt the medical advice is the same for gay or straight women, and we have only found one medical professional who didn't treat me equally as a partner, very very different to how it was when I first came out.  But it still feels very daunting to have to introduce yourself as partner every time you meet a new medical team.  In fact the support we have had has been excellent and gratefully received, from the medics to friends and neighbours.

However there are some questions and discussions I can't have with straight professionals or breast cancer patients as they can't have personal experience.  For example, is it difficult for a lesbian woman when she sees her partner's breasts having lost or having had cancer in her own?  Are there potentially upsetting intimate moments to be aware of? And other questions and shared experiences that would help me - and other same sex partners - to be as sensitive and supportive as possible.  That's really why I asked about a same sex specific forum or source of support.

I still haven't found one, and I would still welcome that type of discussion with someone, so I'd like to leave my original post live.  I appreciate the support from other posters however, thank you.

Community Manager

Re: Same sex partner of woman with breast cancer - advice sought

This reminded of this tweet we posted in December:

https://twitter.com/BreastCancerNow/status/1337034333656293377

Happy new year to you too!

Member

Re: Same sex partner of woman with breast cancer - advice sought

Thanks for that, Bernard.

Glad you've clarified that for ANY gay women looking in. There used to be a specific area on the Forum, prior to it combining with "Breast Cancer Now", and it was removed.

I've never found any probs relating my probs to hetero women on the Forum, nor they me. Have actually found it more "open minded" and less "sexually political" without it. A woman with Breast Cancer, is a woman, regardless of what her sexuality is. It makes no difference to any medical attitude, treatment or support. Or the medical nurses and none medical support such as we receive here on the forum.

Happy New Year to you,  Delly  x x x   

Community Manager

Re: Same sex partner of woman with breast cancer - advice sought

Hi all

May I chip in to say that our support - from digital support to nursing advice, and anything in between - is open to anyone, regardless of how they identify or who they love.

Bernard x

Member

Re: Same sex partner of woman with breast cancer - advice sought

Hi Linzini

I'm sorry I missed your post from Sept. I've been off the forum for a few months, otherwise I'd have answered 

I am a fellow gay woman. Had mastectomies to both boobs 2006 and 07.

I wondered how your partner went on with her treatments? How you both are?

I have to agree with ttyler - I don't really see what the difference is, whether your hetero or gay, the support is the same. Actually, without wanting to sound sexist, you'd think a female partner would be "likely" to be MORE supportive. But then, I've heard of PLENTY of husbands or male partners being fantastically supportive. Also of some who haven't, and struggle with their partners changes to the point of splitting up, which must be very upsetting for their female partner!

Some women have a hard time coming to terms with no boobs, whereas others don't. 

There's always reconstruction, if your partner's struggling with none, if she hasn't already by now.

Personally, after two mastectomies, I was one of the women who didn't want to be without boobs, that it DID bother. I really missed them, basically. I was also still single, and didn't want to get back on the dating horse "without" boobs either, so opted for delayed reconstruction.

You didn't say WHY or WHAT aspects of it all, you were feeling upset about.

Anyway - I hope all's well with both of you, whatever decisions your partner arrived at.

Lots of love,  Delly  xxxx    

Community Champion

Re: Same sex partner of woman with breast cancer - advice sought

Hi, Linzini

My name is Tara, I was diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer in March. I have had a therapeutic mamoplasty ( a lumpectomy with an uplift) in April and are due my final round of chemo on Thursday. I will then have radiotherapy and an uplift to the good side.

 I myself am not gay I am married though and have 2 children. My Mum was married to a lady that unfortunately died of a brain bleed at the age of 58 in July last year. They had a relationship for 10 years.
I read your post and did not want to pass without giving sharing my experiences. I hope you don’t mind? I feel that there are similarities even though I am not in a same sex relationship.

 When I was diagnosed I straight away told the surgeon that I wanted both my breasts taken off. I too have a family history of breast cancer, my Nan passed away 26 years ago. As you can imagine I panicked and thought this was my best option. To my horror I sat there with the surgeon strongly recommending the therapeutic mammoplasty procedure. He also suggested I have a gene test. I totally agreed to the gene test, but could not understand why he was reluctant to give me the mastectomy. I was 36 when diagnosed and kept thinking I want to be here for my children not have nice looking breasts with a short life span. Thankfully I took my husband to the appointment with me an he was my ears. He heard the reasons why the surgeon was recommending the procedure he did. Yes I had an aggressive form of cancer, but as it had been caught early and they did not think it had spread to nodes the statistics were just as good for the mammoplasty as the mastectomy. What I would say is keep talking to one another, you may have to be the ears at appointments as if your partner is anything like me I was dismissing anything that I did not want to hear. I wanted a mastectomy and that was all I wanted at that time. After talking things through with my husband over the weekend and listening to someone I love taking into account what the doctor had to say I could see more clearly what was being explained to me.

 My surgeon was happy to go with my choice and even now after having a negative gene test and a therapeutic mammoplasty he is still willing to do a mastectomy if that is what I want and will make me feel more secure in knowing the cancer might not return.

 I did have clear nodes and margins and have finished my final round of 6 chemotherapy cycles today. This can be beaten!

 I wish you both all the luck in the world. Keep talking and being there for your partner and together the right decisions will be made.

 Lots of 💕 

Tara xx

 

Community Manager

Re: Same sex partner of woman with breast cancer - advice sought

Hi Linzini,

Thank you for posting. We're sorry to read about your partner's diagnosis. 

If you would like further information about her diagnosis, treatment, or just need a listening ear, you can call our specialist nurses for support on 0808 800 6000. They are available between 9am-4pm Mondays to Friday and Saturdays from 9am-1pm. 

Sending you our best wishes,

Saskia 

 

Member

Same sex partner of woman with breast cancer - advice sought

Hi,

My partner of nearly 30 years has recently been diagnosed with invasive lobular breast cancer.  We are awaiting further MRI tests to accurately determine size, whether there are other tumours and to get an idea as to whether it has gone to the lymph nodes.   She has a close family history of BC so this is not a total surprise to either of us, but it is a big shock as we were told that at her age she was on the normal statistical curve for risk.     

 

I am finding it hard to get information aimed at lesbian couples - so not so much the practical and medical stuff, I think that is the same whatever gender, but on the psychological and relationship side of things.  We are talking and sharing OK so far, although I think we are both trying to be reasonably strong for the other.  I would be very grateful to talk with other same sex partners in this situation, in particular about how to best support my partner through this, and also how to get my head around the idea of a double mastectomy, which is what my partner wants.  I absolutely do not want to stand in her way if the consultant agrees it is a sensible way forward, but I am a little surprised how emotional I feel about it given I can totally see her logic.

Thanks in advance for any responses.