The sexy side of breast cancer

You’re there. Sitting in an impersonal doctor’s office, so cliché in its décor that it could be any doctor’s office. You’re in a chair that you’d rather not remember but whose upholstery you’ll never forget. Because the itch coming from that hue of blue made your skin crawl so much that your body didn’t feel like your own.

You see the doctor mouth the words you knew in your gut were coming. The words you felt clumped together in your breast a week before you came to this office. And sat in this chair.

A breast cancer diagnosis can make you feel like your body was hijacked. Everything that was womanly about you is suddenly taken from you, quite literally, and you’re left by yourself to rationalize something that is too intimate for others to understand and too universal to keep bottled up.

Not very often does a breast cancer diagnosis make you love your body, and even less often does it make you love your breast. But that’s what happened for Eriko.

“My breast cancer made me a sexier person,” she said. “I was forced to become in tune with my body and my breast. I had no choice. Not all women really want to have to deal with it, but when you’re confronted with a diagnosis of cancer, you have to pay attention to your body in ways you never did before.”

Eriko decided right after her diagnosis that her cancer wasn’t going to take her life from her. She pulled out a calendar, started a treatment countdown and asked her husband to buy her something pink and sparkly to honor the occasion.

Honoring herself became as central a part of her treatment as her mastectomy and radiation were, and Eriko believes that helped her maintain her sense of femininity.

“While I was going through breast cancer treatment, which was hell, I would set these little mini-goals,” she said. “One of them was, on Fridays, when I knew my radiation treatment was over for the weekend, I would drive over to my favorite restaurant and order my favorite salad, take it to go, then run home and take a nap or a bubble bath – just to kind of honor myself.”

A little extra attention went a long way in making Eriko comfortable in her new body. When she first lost her breast, she was very sensitive about her scar and didn’t like anything to touch it. A friend gave her a pair a silk pajamas, and soon the scar started to feel less like a battle wound and more like a badge of honor.

“One of my girlfriends flew to Thailand often, and she said, ‘I have the perfect gift for you. I am going to buy silk Thai pajamas for you and I know you’ll love them,’” Eriko said. “When she gave them to me I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t want to wear anything like that. It’s like too much fabric against my skin.’ I was still very, very sensitive, and my scar was still healing. But those silk pajamas are my favorite ones now because they make me feel very sexy and pretty.”

The pajamas showed her that her sensuality had little to do with her anatomy and more to do with her state of mind. If she could make herself feel feminine and sexy by wearing clothes that felt good against her skin, her scar wouldn’t be as disruptive.

“When I finally felt like it was okay, I would go shop for these really sexy camisoles,” she said. “That’s what I wear underneath my clothes, and that’s just for me. It makes me walk taller and feel proud that I am a woman.”

Eriko feels that cultivating her sexy side during her breast cancer treatment gave her a new perspective on life, and while it may seem counterintuitive, she recommends other women try it.

“When going through breast cancer treatment or other hardships, always know that there is an end, and that it is not always going to be this dark,” she said. “Treat yourself, buy some bling, buy a sexy outfit. Buy a camisole, buy some shoes. Go out and get a manicure or a pedicure with your girlfriend. You deserve it.”

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate the body’s transformation from woman to survivor, check out Save the Ta-Tas, a cute line of shirts and other gear that celebrates breasts and scars alike. A portion of all purchases goes to fund research, so your dollar does double duty!

MORE TIPS & TOOLS

Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation
Founded on a promise between sisters, the Susan G. Komen Foundation has been a pioneer in funding and finding a cure.

All About Breast Cancer
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Ribbon Worthy
Cancer is a club you didn’t ask to join, but since you’ve been granted admission, you might as well meet your fellow members. Join Pink-Link to ask questions, share experiences, dig for information, give a resource, and get help through rough spots.