Cancer log 169: Bras, redux

Cancer log 169: I had a burst of energy, and ended up trying on all my bras and nightwear to see what actually fits. This is in the cancer log, and I’m only bothering to note it at all, because the lumpectomy was in September, and it’s now June, and I’m only now feeling relaxed enough about my breasts that I can cope with staring at them semi-critically in a mirror, over and over again. Body dysphoria, we have had some here. But it appears to be much improved.

Ironic, perhaps, given that I have the first in a series of reconstructive procedures in a few weeks, designed to hopefully get the left breast to match the right one a little better. But still, a good marker of progress, I think. I hope the reconstruction goes well, because symmetry is nice, but if it doesn’t work out, I think I’ll be basically okay with how I look anyway.

The next bit may be TMI, so adding a little break for those who don’t want to read more specific details about post-cancer sex life:

Sex was not so great, immediately post-surgery. The chemo put me in menopause, we’re pretty sure (they won’t call it that until I’ve gone a year without a period, but we’re coming up on that marker in a few weeks, so I’m comfortable calling it that). I wrote a piece that was pretty raw about how not great my sex life was at that point, and I’m afraid I haven’t posted it because I’m still trying to turn it into an essay and possibly publish it, so apologies for the lacunae, which may make this more confusing.

But to summarize, I was experiencing a lot of vaginal dryness, which was stressing me the hell out, and making sex notably less fun all around. We figured it was either menopause or a side effect of Tamoxifen (a cancer-recurrence-preventing med), and I was trying to resign myself to making lube a necessary and constant part of my regular sex life. I wasn’t thrilled about that change, but would have coped.

Now, that was back in…January, I think? So now it’s June, and I’m mentioning all this primarily because that problem seems to have mostly fixed itself. Which makes me think that maybe the dryness was more anxiety and stress than anything else. Or the chemo effects take longer to wear off than I realized. I’m not sure. But for the most part, things in that department are mostly back to normal, or close to it. The left nipple still doesn’t seem to work right, although there’s actually more sensation in the breast overall than I think there was six months ago. I think I had the impression that nerves didn’t heal, but apparently, the peripheral nervous system can heal, and often does. So that’s nice too.

Time. When all the docs and people who have been through this were telling me to give it time, maybe I should’ve listened. Patience: not my strong suit!

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