Divulge Her Cancer?

Q: I had my left breast removed due to cancer. I don't want reconstruction done at my age. My question is that I want to date men but I am afraid of rejection from them when I tell them I've had a breast removed. When do I tell a man that I have had this done - from the beginning of the date or wait till we get to know each other a little bit? -- Sunny, 53

Dr. Susan: I see that you're being realistic about what kind of reactions you may get from men. I hope you can be equally strong about bouncing back from any negative reactions. You've made your choice about how to deal with the cancer and its aftermath (and I'll assume you've considered the pros and cons of all your options). Now you need to find a man who will be at ease with who you are. Obviously, you'd want to tell the truth fairly soon, before you become physically intimate. It's a good idea to give a guy a chance to get used to the idea and not be totally surprised by what he will see. Get to know him first, for a few dates. That way, he knows you for the wonderful well-rounded person you are, and the lack of a body part becomes only one small bit of your total self. Also, you can better judge how to discuss such a sensitive topic after you know a guy for a while. There are techniques for easing into that first erotic interlude, using silky scarves or nightwear, for example. There are men out there with the wisdom, by midlife anyway, to know what really matters in a relationship. There are several books available to help, including one by Linda Dackman, available used at online bookstores: Up Front: Sex and the Post-Mastectomy Woman.

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