Dear Annie: Seven years ago, I had an elective bilateral mastectomy.
I had multiple lumps and biopsies, coupled with a family history of cancer.
Also, my young daughter was reaching the age I was when I lost my own mother to breast cancer.
My doctor and surgeon performed the operation with little question.
The years since have been difficult. I have had five reconstructions and still have trouble with hardening implants.
The real issue is, I have no one to talk to about this. I have not been able to find a therapist willing to touch the issue.
I was even turned away by the American Cancer Society because I was not a “survivor.”
My husband tolerates the consequences, but has yet to be able to look at me naked.
I want to cry whenever I see women’s magazines, because I will never be “whole” again.
I’ve tried to put my sadness away and accept who I am. At the age of 55, I hope to live many more years. I don’t want this to eat away at my spirit any longer.
— Anxiously Awaiting
Dear Anxious: When you had your surgery, support groups were few and far between, but times have changed — at least a little.
There is a prophylactic mastectomy group on Facebook, and we recommend you contact FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) at 866-288-RISK (866-288-7475) (facingourrisk.org).
And by all means, ask them to help you find a therapist.
We cannot imagine why you have been having so much trouble getting decent counseling.