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Survivor Sex: My First Time After a Double Mastectomy

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By Alice Crisci
April 6, 2011 at 11:46 am



I was at a restaurant in DC with my girlfriends when I met him.

He was the general manager who rushed to my rescue when his staff thought I was about to go into anaphylactic shock from eating some zucchini that touched the shellfish. He made me laugh on first sight. That’s when I spotted his gray, plastic bracelet. He was connected to cancer, too.

I asked what type of cancer the gray band represented. He said brain. His dad died a few years back. I told him most of the women at the table were breast cancer survivors. I was vibrant and he was receptive. We talked for so long at the table it became uncomfortable. I wasn’t eating and he wasn’t working. I asked him to join us after dinner for a drink.

I was just six months out from chemo with awkward hair, hot flashes from medical menopause and absolutely no hormone activity whatsoever. No estrogen, no progesterone, no testosterone. We were blocking it all. I had less than zero sex drive. But I did want to spend part of that evening with this, dark, handsome, Jewish, bald man. I was intrigued.

In the months before I met him, I tried to jump-start a chemical reaction down there. I just wanted to know what was possible — would I ever get aroused again or was I fated to some kind of passionless, androgynous life like my dog whose testicles were removed when I adopted him? Even he tries humping my other dog from time to time.

No fantasy, no touch, no cream, no trick, no book, no toy, could crank the loin controls into gear. At 32, I was supposed to be in the prime of my sex drive, but instead I felt like I was 72!

My OBGYN took one look at me, and wincing, said, “Oh honey, you look like a virgin again! Does it hurt to walk?” And that was before she stuck the cold, metal device inside my private parts.

I experienced such discomfort from chemotherapy and medical menopause; I didn’t even notice how uncomfortable the area between my thighs had become. Now that she mentioned it … ouch!

He sent us to a chocolate lounge around the corner and arrived about an hour later. He sat close enough to me where I could smell his perspiration. And that’s when it happened.

The most insane chemical reaction since I hit puberty.

My pheromones wanted his pheromones and I felt like I was going to come out of my skin if I didn’t kiss him right then and there. But, we were in a public place and his employees could potentially be at the same lounge, so we did the respectable thing and started making out in the elevator.

It was delicious. I mean delicious. He was an amazing kisser, soft and firm at the same time, sensual and passionate. He was as hungry as I was. He didn’t know I didn’t feel like a woman or a sexual being at all. He set off something inside my brain that went way beyond what estrogen and testosterone do for a woman. And the response was tingling throughout my body.

And just when I felt any conscious thought slipping from my mind, he ever so lightly ran his thumbs across my nipples. Only, I didn’t have any nipples. They were removed from my double mastectomy and I hadn’t had them reconstructed yet. Embarrassed and extremely self-conscious, I pulled slightly away from him and called a time out. Yes, I literally put my hands in the time-out T we’d use in basketball:

“Time out. Umm, I don’t have any nipples.”
He said, “Oh, okay. Are you going to get some?”
I said, “Well, eventually, yes.”

With a slight shrug of the shoulders, he did what any man would’ve done. He said “okay” and went in for more kisses.

But, I called another time out. Yes, one wasn’t enough. But this time, I turned away from him and said, “I’m sorry, I just need a quick minute.”

And just like that, I started sobbing. With the new guy in an elevator in the middle of DC, I started crying.

It was the first time someone had touched me sensually since right before I had my surgery. My ex-boyfriend Doug hadn’t touched me even when we were still together. He hadn’t kissed me passionately since the day before surgery. He wasn’t even the last man to fondle my real breasts, a fact that saddened me deeply.

This was the first time I had to confront that I was different than most women he could’ve been making out with in that elevator. I felt deformed and incomplete. I didn’t know if getting nipples would make me feel less so, but in that moment, I had to confront my harsh reality — a part of my body that made me feel like a woman was gone. I would never feel someone touching my nipples again; I will never become aroused by the sensation of a touch or tongue across my hardened nipple.

My tears didn’t deter him. In fact, I cried on our first four dates. Each time we did something physical for the first time, something triggered my pain and insecurities. I wept for things I couldn’t even articulate. He was wonderful. He was patient and compassionate, and he desired me as if I was a whole woman. After awhile, I started to feel whole again. Each time I caught his smell, it would make me crazy and I would want to devour him.

I seriously felt like a lioness in heat.

It turned out he wasn’t the one, beyond the six months we were together. He was definitely the one for me to experience those firsts with. He gave me a gift that I’m not sure he realizes he gave me because things ended ugly. After all, I was still in medical menopause, and my emotional state was not what I would call stable.

I did eventually get those nipples and they do help me feel more complete.

I’m waiting now for the right man to come along. Hopefully, he will be the right one to fondle my new nipples…for the first and the last time.

Alice Crisci is founder of Fertile Action, a non-profit that helps women become mothers after cancer. Click here to read more about a young woman’s journey through breast cancer.

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