Health Care Professional as a barrier



A woman recently told us that her partner had recommended the doctor to her because the partner used to know him as a neighbor (while she was still married). The partner was not 'out' to her former neighbors.

So the woman with breast cancer felt unable to tell the doctor she was a lesbian. This led him to tell her various inappropriate and confusing things. For example:

He suggested that she should strongly consider breast reconstruction since "she would have trouble getting married in the future". Now this statment is ridiculous from many viewpoints. It presupposes that all future (male)partners would require a breast. It presumes that she is heterosexual. It presumes that all men are fools.

That is a lot for one idea, isn't it.

But because of this inability to discuss things from a truthful perspective, this woman is forced to be even more uncomfortable making choices than she ordinarily would be.

And making a decision to get reconstruction or not can be difficult. In fact almost all decisions around breast cancer are a drag precisly because so much is guesswork or personal choice. Since doctors cannot say who will benefit from treatment, we are all making decisions with little evidence. We still do not know who will benefit. We don't know who will have a recurrence, which tends to defeat attempts at reconstruction.

Quality of life after treatment and/or reconstruction has rarely been studied. We don't even know if women are generally happy with their decisions to go one way or the other.

Certainly putting fear into a woman about her chances of getting a partner when she doesn't do reconstruction cannot be very helpful.

Ann's NOTE: For a variety of reasons I did not have reconstruction even though at this point I have had both breasts removed. I am allergic to plastic so having an implant would be impossible. It is difficult for me to tolerate bandaging so choosing a surgery is a difficult choice. Reconstructive surgery is usually a relatively long surgery and I am uncomfortable with that. Additionally I could never have as large a breast as I had formerly. And, the big one for me, the reconstructed breast has no real feeling. There are also, as always, unwanted effects from surgery. If you take the tissue from the abdomen there is a strong risk of back trouble sometime in the future. Other options are the shoulder or back, or the buttocks. For me, this just doesn't seem viable. My partner doesn't care that I have no breasts and neither do I in that context, although I care so much some of the time.

On the other hand I have a friend who is 14 years out and had reconstruction immediately. She loves her "perky" breast (an implant) and remains pleased to this day. After she read the previous statement, she said it was too strong for how she feels now (16 years out).

Remember we are NOT Doctors and have NO medical training.

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