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Being cancer-free worth concerns about body image and sexuality ...

Being cancer-free worth concerns about body image and sexuality ...

Being cancer-free worth concerns about body image and sexuality

Being cancer-free worth concerns about body image and sexuality, doctor ...http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/being-canc...1 of 2 5/15/2013 9:31 AMZOSIA BIELSKIThe Globe and MailPublished Tuesday, May. 14 2013, 9:17 PM EDTLast updated Tuesday, May. 14 2013, 10:04 PM EDTWriting about her decision to undergo a preventative double mastectomy, actress Angelina Joliestressed, “I do not feel any less of a woman. I feel empowered that I made a strong choice that in noway diminishes my femininity.”Concerns about body image and the effects on sexual response can naturally arise for womenundergoing the invasive procedure, from physiological questions about loss of feeling and pain fromscar tissue to psychological apprehension around the consequences for pleasure.“For most women, it’s a very emotional decision,” said Kelly Metcalfe, an associate professor at theUniversity of Toronto’s Lawrence S. Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing.Dr. Metcalfe, who researches cancer prevention in high-risk women, said some patients get feelingback and others do not. As for the fraught question of sexual pleasure, “Some women will tell you[breasts] have nothing to do with it. But for some women and their partners, it is a big part.”She acknowledged that while removing a breast “is not going to do anything to the way that youfunction as a human being, it does have an impact on the way you may perceive yourself as a woman.”When Amy Moore-Benson saw her breasts after reconstruction for the first time, “it was a massivesense of shock,” said the Toronto literary agent and mother of three. “It was a very high price to pay.Still worth paying.”Ms. Moore-Benson, 44, underwent a double mastectomy after being diagnosed with aggressive breastcancer in 2008. Although her own appearance initially stunned her, Ms. Moore-Benson insists shedid not grow self-conscious about it: She had no issues changing in the yoga studio or walking aroundnude in front of her husband at the time.“I did not lose a piece of my sexuality with my breast. I did not ever see it like that, nor do Iexperience it like that now. ... It’s my price that I had to pay to get out of being a cancer patient asquickly and effectively as I possibly could.”For women who decide to proceed with double mastectomies, such questions of body image oftendim next to the prospect of a cancer-free life.

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