Breast cancer is more than just a disease. As devastating as the cancer and its treatment can be on a woman’s health, its impact goes far beyond this. And yet the emotional scars, and the effect it can have on self confidence, body image and intimacy is one of the untalked about aspects of breast cancer.
‘Breast cancer rips normality away from you.’
Lynne, 47, from Surrey, underwent treatment five years ago. ‘I lost my sex drive and energy, that feeling of being a young, attractive woman. I don’t shop for clothes any more and feel I have to hide how I feel from my family. But this is wrong.’
Lynne is not alone. Breast cancer support charity Breast Cancer Care recently conducted a survey of 600 women who have had breast cancer, and the findings show just how devastating the impact can be on how women feel about themselves, even long after they have finished treatment.
88 percent of women surveyed said that breast cancer and its treatment has had a negative impact on how they feel about their bodies; 68 percent said it has affected their sexual and intimate relationships; half of women said they feel uncomfortable undressing in front of their partner.
What’s more, two thirds of women said they felt unable to talk about the imapct of breast cancer on their body with their healthcare professional. Which means thousands of women across the country are suffering a huge loss of self esteem in silence.
Breast Cancer Care wants to bring this hidden impact to the fore and let women know that they are not alone. The charity has just launched a major campaign to show that it is possible to regain your confidence after breast cancer with powerful images of women posing with their mastectomy scars.
‘These wonderful images show that everyone has their own way of finding their way through this disease but it is possible to feel good about yourself,’ said actress and Breast Cancer Care Ambassador Amanda Mealing. ‘Breast Cancer Care’s expert information and support can help you do this however long it has been since your diagnosis. Please don’t struggle with any concerns you might have alone.’
You can find out more about the campaign and read the stories of its three leading women on Breast Cancer Care’s website.
To help get this message across the charity has produced a behind-the-scenes campaign video featuring the three women who appear in the adverts and is asking everyone to share this film via social media to reach the 500,000 women in the UK who have had a breast cancer diagnosis. So please get behind the campaign and share this film.
Breast Cancer Care has also produced a new booklet as part of the campaign titled Your body, intimacy and sex which covers common experiences and concerns and includes a prompt list to help people raise worries with their healthcare professionals. This booklet will be available to download or order through Breast Cancer Care’s website from 7 October.