Going through cancer treatment can make you forget about sexuality altogether. That’s why Jen Rozenbaum is making it her mission to normalize what breast cancer bodies look like and help you celebrate your femininity.
It all started with a camera.
I’m always curious how women find their own breast cancer. For Jen, it was a photograph. A photograph she took of herself and noticed a strange shadow. If someone else had taken it, they might’ve just edited the shadow and not thought much of it.
A tale of two cancers?
In the episode, Jen talks about the two distinctions of lobular vs ductal carcinoma. Ductal is the one we hear about most often. The lump in the breast felt on self-exam or seen on mammography.
But there is a darker more sinister type, that looks like a spider web, not picked up on mammography, and not easily felt. I first learned about this type of cancer when I was working at the hospital and went to see a patient with this type of cancer.
I remember thinking, “how fortunate it was found so early”.
Every woman is an island.
Every woman reacts differently and uniquely to her own circumstance and the path she alone can take. For many that means mastectomy, for some that includes reconstruction.
Losing your body parts, particularly in the case of losing your breasts, is not a “free boob job”. We need to see this procedure for what it is — an amputation of reproductive organs. Yes, there is a prosthetic, an implant, but it’s definitely not free.
To try to feel normal after reconstruction takes effort and recovery from surgery. Sometimes there are lingering problems, like painful scars, impaired range of motion, infections, and many other complications.
Sometimes, the breasts are not the only organs to be removed. For some women, this may mean removing ovaries, fallopian tubes, or her uterus. All of the things we are born with as girls. All of the things that distinguish us from boys on the inside. And the place where our hormones originate.
For some, it can feel like an attack on their femininity, for others a relief. It’s important to remember that none of our organs are “extras”. They all serve a function.
Normalizing breast cancer bodies.
When you can’t find a role model, become one for yourself.
It used to be if you searched for images of women after reconstruction you would find images akin to Frankenstein-like images. These are likely to strike fear in any woman’s heart.
As surgery techniques, and the surgeons who implement them, have gotten better, this is no longer the norm. There are still women who do not end up with good results. But there are women who do. Lot’s of them.
And this is what we all need to see.
Celebrate your femininity.
Not only is it possible to get through a breast cancer diagnosis and the subsequent treatment, it’s possible to live well after.
You may not feel as carefree as you once did, but it’s possible to enjoy your body after cancer. It’s even possible to learn to embrace your femininity again.
For Jen that encompasses her motto of being shamelessly feminine — letting your inner light shine and finding a place to feel free to be empowered to show it.
Whether you feel comfortable doing boudoir photography or you just allow yourself a moment of acceptance of the new look of your body, I hope you can celebrate your femininity for you, for your peace of mind.
Here are some of my favorite moments from this episode:
- 1:45 Jen’s cancer story.
- 3:15 Two types of breast cancer.
- 6:51 Losing all your female body parts.
- 8:15 All the big feelings.
- 12:45 Are you still carefree?
- 15:29 Let’s talk about menopause and normalizing breast cancer bodies.
- 19:56 Of drains and fainting spells.
- 21:57 It’s not a boob job, it’s an amputation.
- 26:29 You’ve got to write a book!
- 30:46 Finding yourself after cancer upends it.
- 37:44 Becoming a boudoir photographer.
- 39:41 On being shamelessly feminine.
Links you might find helpful:
- Jen’s Book – What the F*ck Just Happened?
A new episode is released every second and fourth Thursday of each month.
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If you’re stressed about what to eat check out episode 34 with Cathy Leman, RD or episode 35 where I talk about food rules vs. food values. Episode 19 and episode 30 were about balancing components of an anti-cancer lifestyle. Episodes 25, 31, and 32 were about helping you find ways to heal your soul through Reiki and healing touch, writing, and art therapy.