Last week, we dove into the physical changes that Breast Cancer can bring which affect sexuality. This week, I take a look at some of the emotional components of the Breast Cancer journey, how they may affect sexuality and how to begin to heal. It is possible to be closer to your partner and to yourself than ever before after Breast Cancer. These tips can provide you with some simple steps in the right direction to help you get there.
Sexuality is Emotional
According to a report put out by the University of California San Francisco:
“Sexuality is the sum of feelings and behaviors we have about ourselves and others as sexual beings. It includes how we feel in our own bodies, how we feel being touched and touching, our thoughts and feelings, how we move and what we say.”
Indeed, the report continues, sexuality also has different meanings for each of us, depending on our culture, religious beliefs, values, family upbringing and past experiences.
Although sex and emotions may be expressed differently for men and women, it is safe to say that for all humans, sex is intricately tied to the emotions. This goes for the beautiful, uplifting experience you may feel during love making as well as stress responses that can negatively affect sex.
According to a 2006 study, sadness, disillusionment and various states of anger were common states of being among both men and women who displayed chronic sexual dysfunction.
Ask Yourself These Questions
Take a moment to gently consider if any of the following is true for you:
-Do you struggle with feelings of shame, frustration, vulnerability and resentment about your body in general?
-Are you ashamed to let your partner look at you now that you have had a mastectomy or lumpectomy?
-Do you automatically cringe every time your partner touches you in the area where your cancer used to be or currently is?
-Are you feeling shame around your body because of symptoms of early menopause?
Take out a piece of paper and a pen and journal your answers as well as any insights that may come up around any of the questions above. Let the tears and other expressions of emotion flow. They are signs that you are on the road towards healing!
These are hard issues to talk about, and to write about. But if you have had any of these feelings, you are not alone. Thousands of other women have had them too. No matter what healing path you choose, having Breast Cancer makes you question everything in your life, including your identity as a woman and your motality.
Steps to Emotional Healing
Journalling your feelings is just one powerful way to get your feelings “out and flowing” around your Breast Cancer experience. Here are a few other actions you can take.
#1 Make Self-Care Your Number One Priority.
If you are already on a Healthy Breast Journey, then you know how important self-care is. So what exactly does self-care look like? Here are some examples-
-feeding yourself nourishing, cancer-healing foods, healing herbs and hormone-balancing supplements;
-being in nature;
-doing things you really enjoy;
-spending time with people that lift you up, not ones that bring you down;
-utilizing healing modalities such as massage, acupuncture and sauna.
#2 Lower Stress.
Do all you can to lower your stress level, so that your physical body and your mind can heal. In addition to the activities listed above, some sure-fire ways to lower stress include meditation, prayer, stretching, light exercise like walking, biking or dancing, laughter and simply taking a “time out” to breath and center throughout your day.
#3 Get support.
Support can come from your partner, but it can also come from a group, a counselor or a close friend who can lend a listening ear. Studies indicate that individuals healing from cancer who get strong social support tend to have better outcomes and quality of life overall. Women in particular benefit from the support of other women they can share their emotions with.
#3 Talk about it.
This refers to setting aside time for gentle yet honest communication with your partner about your fears, hurts and concerns, as well as listening to what your partner has to say too. Sometimes just a few minutes of open-hearted communication can bring you closer as a couple.
If you need a little help with communication, check out The Five Love Languages, a relationship classic by Pastor Gary Chapman.
#4 Get creative with intimacy.
Who says intimacy has to involve sex? If you are not in a position, either physically or emotionally, to be sexual with your partner, come up with creative, fun ways you can express your love without it. This may include holding hands, cuddling, going out on a date, or simply taking a walk at sunset.
Remember that this is YOUR life, YOUR relationship and YOUR journey with Breast Cancer. You can heal it all on your own terms! By putting self-care and honest communication first, you may be surprised at the confidence, love and intimacy that may unfold all around.
Dr. Veronique Desaulniers (“Dr. V”) is the founder of Breast Cancer Conqueror.com and The 7 Essentials System ™. This step-by-step guide empowers you with knowledge so you Never Have to Fear Breast Cancer Again! To watch a FREE webinar about the 7 steps for beating breast cancer naturally, Click Here