Congratulations! You survived breast cancer. This should be a time to celebrate—so why do you feel so empty and alone? Medical professionals prepare you for surgery and other treatments, but do not always address your emotional and sexual health. In Intimacy After Breast Cancer, breast cancer survivor Gina Maisano honestly discusses the sensitive issues of self-esteem, body image, and sexuality to help you become the total woman you still are.
Part One begins by examining the emotions experienced by breast cancer survivors, including anxiety and fear of recurrence. It then offers guidance on regaining the confidence to start living again. The mental and physical effects of post-surgical medications are discussed, along with solutions for maintaining optimum health. Part Two focuses on rediscovering your sexuality. In a compassionate manner, it addresses the issues that most often challenge both single and married women and presents suggestions for overcoming them.
Love and intimacy do not have to end with a breast cancer diagnosis. In Intimacy After Breast Cancer, Gina Maisano will help you rediscover the joys of being a woman.
Gina M. Maisano—two-time breast cancer survivor—is the founder of the No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of women with breast cancer (www.nosurrenderbreastcancerhelp.org).
She is also a writer, whose articles on breast cancer issues have appeared in numerous magazines and journals. Gina lectures frequently on her personal journey with the disease. Currently, she resides on Long Island, New York.
Part One. Your Personal Reclamation,
1. Your Treatments are Done. Now What?
2. Prescription and Natural Medications
3. Taking Care of Your Body
4. Image Reconstruction
5. Getting to Know the New Girls
Part Two. Your Sexual Self,
6. Reclaiming Your Sexuality
7. The Married Survivor
8. Sex and the Married Survivor
9. The Single Survivor
10. Sex and the Single Survivor
11. Your Style
12. The Moment of Truth
13. Free Your Mind and Body
More women are surviving breast cancer today than ever before, and not just until the statistical five-year benchmark. Many women are surviving for fifteen, twenty, thirty years and more. This is a testament to modern medicine. However, it does come with a price. While the medical community has been busy extending the lives of breast cancer patients, no one has been focusing on just what kind of lives these women are going to live.
Surviving cancer is not akin to finishing a book, closing it, and returning it to its shelf. With cancer, there is a web of continuing treatments and long-term physical and psychological side effects. There is also a never-ending fear that it will come back.
When you were first diagnosed you felt fine, but then your treatments began and they made you ill. In the blink of an eye, you went from being a woman to being a cancer patient.Now that your treatments have ended, you need to transition back into the land of the healthy and living. You must become a woman again and kick that cancer patient to the curb.
The artist Michelangelo believed that he didn’t create his magnificent sculptures. He believed that they were always inside the marble blocks and all he did was uncover them. That is what you have to do. The beauty that is within you must be uncovered. It’s time for the magnificent victor of the most frightening battle you’ve faced to emerge. But first you have to remove a lot of marble! You have to want to come out and be a part of the healthy world again. You have to believe that a beautiful life full of promise, opportunity, and love is out there waiting for you. When you do, the marble will melt away and you can begin to rediscover yourself and live beyond your cancer.
You have many exciting adventures ahead of you. Love and a fulfilling sexual life are attainable--they have not disappeared among the surgical scars, loss of hormones, and fear--you just need to be shown how to reclaim them. And you will.
If you are married, your husband’s world was rocked by the news of your cancer. And now that your treatments are done, he may be wondering why you aren’t bouncing back into your old routine right away. He wants his wife and lover back, but he is unclear about how the future will be for the two of you. A lot of changes have taken place in a relatively short span of time, so you probably aren’t so sure either. Take a deep breath. This book will help you understand that through tender, open, loving communication, the two of you can rediscover your love life. You may even find it’s better than it ever was!
Single survivor, your journey is completely different. Dating has never been easy, but breast cancer has now made it more complicated than you ever imagined. There is so much explaining to do, which is especially hard when you’re vulnerable and unsure of how you feel about the new you. You literally need to fall in love with yourself and see just how beautiful you are before you can begin to fall in love with others and have them fall in love with you. You need to discover the strengths and features that make you desirable. Once you do, others will follow.
Daunting though it may appear, it’s time for you--whether you’re married or single--to start looking forward. Believe in yourself and all the beauty that you have inside. The first step toward your wonderful, new life is to divide and conquer. We need to break down what has happened to you medically and physically, and then find solutions to the long-term side effects you are left with. Part One discusses ways to counteract these side effects. Post-surgical challenges are also explained, and new ways of dealing with your new body are found.
Additionally in Part One,your psychological wounds will be dressed and stitched together so they can finally heal. Self esteem and body issues will be viewed in a realistic, open, and honest way--not in the way your doctor glosses over it, but in a way that will truly make a difference in your life.You will see that everything that has happened to your appearance has a solution. In fact, you may even end up looking better than you did before cancer!
After we accomplish your personal reclamation in Part One, we move on to your sexual reclamation in Part Two. Your treatments and medications have altered your hormones, which affects your sex life. But this book will teach you how to reverse adverse sexual conditions. If you are married, you will work out how to deal with your husband and family. If you are single, you will learn that your life is still ahead of you, and that your future can include both love and sex.
And speaking of sex, every question you have about your new, post-treatment body and how it will respond to sexual activity is answered. You will see that you can once again have a fulfilling sex life, and that your sexual future is exciting. Dating, love, intercourse, toys, and everything else your doctor didn't tell you is here in this book. Throughout these pages, you will also find personal stories that reflect real-world experiences of breast cancer survivors. You may find yourself in some of them. They are included to show you that you are not alone in any of this. There is a whole sisterhood right beside you feeling the same things you are. Take comfort in that.
Purchasing and reading this book means you are ready to make a change in your life. It means that you no longer want to be the “Designated Cancer Patient” in your world. Good for you girl! Your new life is waiting for you, so what are we waiting for? We’ve got work to do!