Breast Cancer Reality: Debbie

In April of this year, we lost my partner’s aunt to metastatic breast cancer. She dealt with BC off and on for the bulk of our relationship. She hated the pink-ribbonized version of BC thrown about, the organizations ‘raising awareness and funds’ for BC and yet, in the end, doing more harm than good. To honor her and the many women I know living with BC during BC Awareness Month/Pinktober, I wanted to do something special. I’ll be featuring a few stories from amazing peeps about their BC battles.

Today, you’ll hear from my friend Debbie, a purple-haired badass.

Greetings! My name is Debbie. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer when I was 43.

Two years ago during Breast Cancer Awareness month, I found a lump and multiple tests later confirmed it was BC. I was told by my doctor in an almost mechanical way what my next steps were. I was going to have a mastectomy, speak with another doctor about reconstruction, and discuss treatment after pathology reports are in. Insurance would not allow the removal of the “healthy” breast.

I knew instantly I wanted no reconstruction and just wanted to have the surgery and get the cancer out! I was questioned about my decision to reject the offer for reconstruction and all I can say is it was a personal choice. I would be scared to go through with that procedure with a healthy body!

debbie with words that say 'i am a woman regardless to breasts'

So fast forward, it’s invasive and they found 3 tumors, estrogen and progesterone positive. A suggestion for chemo is quickly turned down. Again, a personal choice. I agree to Tamoxifen, a drug I will take for the next five years.

Fast forward to the next year – new insurance, new doctors. They recommend I have my ovaries removed to decrease hormones I produce. I agreed, full hysterectomy was optional (I’m 43 no more babies for me). I find a doctor who is willing to take my other breast at the same time.

For many reasons, I felt unbalance – the other breast now was a worry to me, a reminder of happened to the other one. 

So I have both procedures on the same day.

By now the meds have affected my libido which should be the last thing a cancer patient thinks of… not.

I’m still me and want that physical connection with my partner.

We have both been through this together and, thank goodness, he is patient. After the final surgery, things got drastically worse in that department.

No desire – none, it was gone.

I had to try to mentally build myself up to engage with my partner, not to mention the surgery left me with unwanted muscle spasms and get ready for this… a shortened vaginal canal.

Yes, there is such a thing!

They even sent me to Vagina PT – strangest doctor visit in my life but what we won’t do to try to feel “normal” again…

I share my intimate details after breast cancer to let other women know they are not alone.

Pink ribbons could never bring awareness to the multiple surgeries, sickness, pain, body modifications, scarring, medications that make you sicker, etc. Breast cancer affects us all in more ways than the fact that we no longer have one or both of our natural breasts.

Thank goodness for pages like Flat and Fabulous, Stupid Dumb Breast Cancer, and Chronic Sex! We are able to talk about these things. This is the real awareness.

If you would like to share your illness story, especially during an awareness month, please let us know!

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