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. Please help. – 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 (7475) or 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.
To all our Jewish readers: A happy and healthy Rosh Hashanah.