“I feel very uncomfortable with intimacy because I feel like my body isn’t attractive anymore,” says Jane, 48.
“I don’t really feel like a woman anymore, breasts are so much part of being a woman, so that’s had a big impact on me and a big part of our relationship.”
In 2014, Jane became one of the 60,000 people diagnosed with breast cancer in the UK each year.
Although she’s responded well to treatment physically, the disease continues to affect her confidence and her relationship with husband, Tim.
Unfortunately, the pair’s experience is far from unique as many couples affected by breast cancer experience unforeseen changes in their relationship.
Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer when she was 45 years old, which led to her having surgery six times.
At first she had a series of lumpectomies, where doctors removed tumours from her breast area, but eight months into treatment she was forced to have a mastectomy. She’s now in the process of having reconstructive surgery.
“I thought that when you have breast reconstruction it meant they recreate what you had before, but of course it’s nothing like that,” she tells The Huffington Post UK.
“My body is not the body that I had at all. After I had my mastectomy in 2015 I didn’t show Tim. I didn’t feel like a woman anymore. I didn’t feel like me and that’s been really difficult.”
Jane says the intimate side of her relationship with Tim has “just gone”, which is all too common for couples who’ve been affected by breast cancer.
Statistics from Breast Cancer Care show that nearly nine in every 10 (88%) women with breast cancer say they have lost their self-esteem and confidence in their bodies after treatment.
What’s more, nearly two-thirds (68%) say it has affected their sexual and intimate relationships.