For many of us, cancer has altered (either through surgery or radiation) our mind, our bodies and our body image. In my case, it's breast cancer. I think what I have to say however, applies to most cancers (and that includes those of you who may have a colostomy bag).
Self-esteem comes from within and doesn't always come easy. I can only speak for myself and offer advice based on my own personal experience.
I love sex. I always have. Prior to my diagnosis I had a great sex life with my husband. We are now divorced but the divorce had nothing to do with sex. After my bilateral mastectomy and before the divorce, my sex life sustained. I always felt a little less sexy without breasts and always wore either a bra or a little nightgown during the ritual. That stems from my lack of self-esteem which is not new.
Regardless, the orgasms still came. As my gynecologist says "Sex is in the brain!" Sex is what you want it to be. It can be erotic, romantic, passionate or all of the aforementioned. Sex can be with the opposite sex, the same sex or it can be with yourself. After my divorce, I thought that there was no way any man would want to be with me because of my deformities... especially at my age. I was so very wrong.
I apologize to the male species for not giving them the credit they deserve. Thanks to the Internet, I've dated several men post-divorce and post-mastectomy. Not one man gave a damn about the fact that I had cancer. Not one man gave a damn about the fact that I had a bilateral mastectomy (and believe me, my breasts still look a little weird). I didn't have sex with all of them, but let's just say I am not a reborn virgin. I'm pretty sure that LGBTs would feel the same. Do I think (or rather do you think) that sex is all they wanted? No, I don't. I say that because I'm the one that broke off all of my relationships for various reasons; mostly incompatibility. I can't date anyone who doesn't like Disney.
Dating and having sex after cancer has been a pleasant (ha ha) surprise for me and believe it or not, there really are a lot of nice men online. Yes there are creepy ones too, but I've been lucky and the creepy ones I tend to weed out.
Here are some things you should think about and rethink and rethink about:
1. Did you have a great sex life prior to cancer?
2. If not, why? If you think it's hormonal, ask your doctor. If it's because you're partner isn't doing it right (and if he is, you would know it) communicate. Many of us are too embarrassed to talk about the issue. Life is way too short... talk about it. Find out why your sex life is not what you wanted it to be.
3. Do you want a sex life after cancer?
4. If not, why? Revert back to question #2. Sex is an important part of life. If there is a God out there, I don't think he made sex for us humans just so that we would procreate. It feels too good for that.
5. Do you like yourself? That's a big question and perhaps the most important. If you value who you are, so will the men you meet. Fix that self-esteem... even just a little bit.
6. Are you afraid of Internet dating?
7. Why? Do your research. It's not hard to do. Get a first name, last name and then get Googling (is that a word?). Check out the property appraiser website to see is there is ownership. Use your imagination. Information is out there (FB, IN, Mugshot.com).
Please understand that I do not look like a model. I have a few extra curves where I wish I didn't (most of us do) and because of the procedure used to create my breasts (mostly fat injections), my legs have indentations in them. What I do have is confidence. I like me and I think that comes across.
I now join the millions of women with metastatic cancer and sometimes those same thoughts come back to me. "Who would want to date someone with Stage IV cancer?"
Here's my new thought. My doctors (all of them) tell me that they now treat my cancer like a chronic disease. Yes, I may be one of the 90 percent of women who do die from metastatic cancer... or not. I may get hit by a bus tomorrow. I may die of a heart attack riding "The Tower of Terror."
In the meantime, I will continue to live, date and hopefully have sex (often)... maybe even one day remarry. My ex-husband would love that... no more alimony.
You should too. Sex is great!
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