I am divorced, and I date. When I like someone new, I'm not sure how to tell him I have had breast cancer. Once in 1991, and again three years ago. I had a lumpectomy. I am so nervous that it will be a deal-breaker. Please help!
Thanks for this opportunity! I have plenty to say, and so does my dear, trusted friend, Susan. I’m going to combine our answers to make me sound smarter than I really am, and also because we agree. Our response to your question is a team effort, but I want you to know that Susan had a double mastectomy with several reconstructive surgeries. She was not “finished” with them when she started dating her guy, now a committed partner.
We both agree that it’s a GOOD thing if you discover early on that having had a lumpectomy is a deal-breaker for someone. Even though you’re going to have to be very brave and vulnerable when broaching this topic, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with your boobs — and if someone thinks there is, then they’re not the someone for you.
Your person will cherish you and love your body as it is. They will see you as a human being who has been through something insanely hard, not as a ticking time bomb or damaged goods or any of the other untrue and hurtful stereotypes that can, unfortunately, surround cancer survivors.
Our bodies just don’t cooperate the way we would like them to all the time. They don’t look the way we want them to, behave the way we want them to, stay healthy the way we want them to. They age, parts shift and even relocate to different areas, and we never seem to look like the women in magazines no matter how hard we try. Your guy knows this, and he loves and embraces what’s real about you anyway — as we all should about ourselves.
I bet you want a real, passionate, and abiding connection that involves great sex, and love, and fun, and playfulness, and companionship. We want that for you! And what we know is that anybody who’s going to be concerned about what your lumps and bumps look like doesn’t have enough tolerance for the amazingness of real-life humans.
We believe you should tell your new date that you had breast cancer as soon as you feel comfortable doing so, and when you feel solid and safe in revealing these details. You don’t have to do it on a first date, but you could. You don’t have to do it within a month, but we recommend you do — simply to take the weight off your shoulders. What you’re about to roll out is not uncommon at all. One out of every eight of us will experience invasive breast cancer in our lifetime.
Susan, with her double mastectomy and several reconstructive surgeries not yet complete, made sure that as soon as she was certain clothes would be coming off, she shared her history, owned it, and also told her boyfriend that it would be really great if he thought her boobs were the best boobs he’d ever seen and that he told her that.
She wanted you to know that she doesn’t really miss her old boobs that much. That’s how ridiculously happy she is with her body and her sensual, satisfying relationship with her partner.
As scary as it is, we want you to be direct about this because you need to know that your partner is there for it. We want nothing less for you.
Susan wants me to tell you not to worry. This turns out okay — more than, actually.
We’re sending you love!
Take care and happy dating!
Wendy Newman is the author of 121 First Dates. She’s a dating, sex, and relationship expert who’s led hundreds of workshops and revolutionized the lives of over 70,000+ women internationally.
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