— Relationships —


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The night before my first mastectomy I stood naked in front of my dressing room mirror, hoping to remember my breasts. They weren’t big, but they were well-shaped. I was slim and fit, the poster girl for exercise and eating right. Even so, it didn’t keep me from getting breast cancer. That night I wasn’t scared as much as I was anxious to have the cancer out of my body.

Even though my husband changed my bandages and cleared my drainage tubes, after my surgery, I was nervous the first time we had sex.

I wore a black lace camisole because I wasn’t comfortable presenting myself in a sexual way without it. We didn’t have sex as much as we made love. It was sweet and welcomed by both of us, and I cried. I cried because we could both let everything go, and be in the moment.

We always had an electric sexual relationship, and that didn’t change, but something else happened. We shared something more intimate than sex: the possibility I might die. That, together with another mastectomy—this one preventative—and a total of 10 surgeries and eight rounds of chemo brought us even closer. I always thought he would outlive me, but he didn’t…

It’s not just him I miss. I miss sharing my life with someone. I don’t expect to find the same kind of love, but as a friend reminded me, I haven’t even been to lunch with anyone in six years. If truth be told, the process of finding someone new scares me.

Everyone warns me about the crazies out there, plus at what point in the dating process do you tell someone you’ve had cancer? Yes it was 12 years ago, but there’s no guarantee it won’t return. Twenty-five percent of husbands leave their wives after they’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, and men weren’t raised to be caregivers, so I have to wonder how many guys won’t call me, again, for fear of getting more than they bargained for? And since most men think with their little brains, I’m guessing a lot of them don’t want a woman who’s breasts are scarred, uneven and anything but sexy, or they’re looking for arm candy who’ll make them feel younger.

Then there’s the problem of vaginal dryness and painful sex… I can’t take estrogen although my doctors now say topical vaginal estrogen would be okay. That’s not what my husband and I heard 12 years ago… Even so, I don’t want to begin using vaginal estrogen cream–that might trigger a long dormant cell–for just anybody.

I know what I want and don’t want from a relationship, and I know being alone is better than settling for just anybody. Several women I know have done that; smart independent women who settled—too quickly—for anybody. Now they’re miserable, but “uncoupling” at a certain age is emotionally and financially messy, so they stay.

On second thought… Instead of wondering who will want me, the question I should be asking is there anyone out there I’ll want?

Love, Brenda


  • Irene January 21, 2017 at 6:02 am

    Brennan, thank you for sharing your experience. I also made it through a double mastectomy with reconstruction. No part of that experience felt like a pink satin ribbon. The first having sex afterwards was scary, awkward until we melted into making love. We both cried because we are alive. I am so grateful to know that kind of love.

    Never settle for less!

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:19 am

      You know exactly what I’m talking about! Thank you for understanding. I’m also sorry you’ve been through this terrible ordeal…. “Never settle for less.” Great advice, Irene. Thank you.

  • Mary Pat Mueller January 21, 2017 at 7:18 am

    Dear Brenda, Don’t give up because Senor Pretty Darn Will Adore you is out there and getting on that bike again will be fabulous. And yes, always listen to what you want and follow your heart. ❤️

    • 1010 Park Place January 21, 2017 at 8:01 am

      Thank you MP! I don’t even know where to start looking! xoxox, B

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:20 am

      MP, You’re the one who’s pretty darn adorable. Thank you! xoxox, Brenda

  • Beckye January 21, 2017 at 2:32 pm

    Brenda, you are so beautiful and vibrant that any guy would be blessed to be with you! If the Lord brings someone, he will adore you no matter what because he’ll love YOU! I can’t take estrogen, but coconut oil is the bomb! 😀

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:14 pm

      Thank you, sweet friend. Coconut oil… I’ll remember that! xoxox

  • Esther Zimmer January 22, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Brenda, what a brave post and I think your question is definitely the one you should be asking! Essie xx

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:15 pm

      You’re right. Sometimes you just have to work your way to the right conclusion. Critical thinking skills. xoxox

  • Esther D'Aprile January 22, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    I am a double mastectomy cancer survivor of 3 years. Terribly scared and breast implants ugly. I know from what you are going through. I have realized that a physical relationship is not that important. Friendship and fellowship is much more important. You can do this, please trust in the Lord and He will guide you and prepare the way ahead of you. I understand and hugs!

    • 1010 Park Place January 24, 2017 at 1:01 pm

      I do trust in Him. Thank you, Esther. I’m sorry you’re a member of this club neither one of us wanted to join. xoxox, Brenda

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:26 pm

      Dear Esther, I’m sorry you’ve experienced breast cancer, too. It’s terrifying and changes you in ways you could never have foreseen. You’ve quoted perhaps my favorite verse in the Bible: Proverbs 3:5 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Like you, I’m leaning… I’m trusting. Sending you all my best wishes for health and happiness, Brenda

  • Connie McLeod January 23, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Wishing you all the beauty and love life offers. This was brave to share with others. I’m in a relationship of 7 years with a widower who never thought he’d find love again.

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:27 pm

      Dearest Connie, I’m thrilled you’re in a relationship with someone who thought he’d never find love again. It gives lots of us hope. xoxox, Brenda

  • Rena McDaniel January 23, 2017 at 10:19 am

    I just had a hysterectomy and have been having those inadequate feelings. I was terrified to make love to my husband and am still getting used to the changes. Loved this Brenda!

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:31 pm

      Rena, I had a total hysterectomy before I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t given estrogen supplements and didn’t need any. That surgery was so easy, mentally and physically, and I never had problems making love after that. Scaring up my breasts was a different matter…. Have you heard Oprah’s quote about being naked and having sex, regardless of your circumstances? She said, “You’re the only naked woman in the room. He’s going to love you!” I think she’s right. Just go for it! My husband told me the sexiest thing about me was my attitude! xoxox, Brenda

  • Haralee January 23, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Yes the change is, who is worthy of you!!

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:32 pm

      Haralee, On one level I know that, but I that question is still in the back of my mind. Thank you, friend, Brenda

  • Roxanne Jones January 23, 2017 at 10:54 am

    A brave and eloquent post. And you came to the absolutely right conclusion–it’s about finding someone YOU want, not worrying if someone will want you. Whoever it may end up being, he’ll be ever so lucky to have you in his life.

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:34 pm

      Would you believe all the men I’m attracted to… my type… are all either married, gay or dead, but I’ll keep looking. Thank you for your sweet comment, Roxanne.

  • Diane January 23, 2017 at 10:54 am

    Oh, my goodness, Brenda, this post made me cry! I remember, years ago, the topic of mastectomy came up on the show Dallas. (Remember that?) Barbara Bel Geddes was applauded for her portrayal of a woman facing that life-altering surgery. It was the first time I had even thought about it. Now, with friends who have survived-and thrived-it is a constant reminder. You are alive. You are beautiful. You deserve every happiness. Don’t be afraid of the ‘what if’s’. Seize the adventure! Cheering you on from the sidelines.

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:35 pm

      “Seize the adventure!” I’ve done that all my life! You’re right, Diane! Why should this be any different? Thank you!

  • Jen Monks January 24, 2017 at 5:31 pm

    Wow! That was very moving, Brenda. I’m so glad you had such a wonderful relationship with your husband and I hope, someday, you find another person who will treat you well and love every inch of you, your mind, and your soul.

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:36 pm

      Thank you, Jen. I’m glad you like it. I have a tendency to just write what’s on my mind. Sometimes I wonder if I’m too transparent, but it seems to speak to a lot of women, so I’ll continue.

  • Barbara January 25, 2017 at 10:39 am

    You are one of the most brave and independent women I’ve ever met. Any man who wouldn’t want you is a man you wouldn’t want anyway.

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:37 pm

      LOL! Love you, Barbara! Thank you! xoxox

  • Beth January 26, 2017 at 6:50 pm

    I have 27 surgical scars and am missing several bodies parts. I am not longer naturally anatomically correct. Sometimes I look at myself and feel like Frankenstein. However with age most of the time I feel strong and each scar has become a medal. I am becoming to feel more beautiful and more authentic, despite fake and missing parts, rather than less.

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:39 pm

      So well said, Beth! I’m sorry you’ve gone through that. I rather quickly became happy with my post surgical body when I was married. It’s just now when I even THINK about the possibility of unrobing for someone new that it bothers me. Being “more authentic,” now that I wouldn’t trade for the best body in the world.

  • Susan Tolles January 26, 2017 at 9:14 pm

    Brenda, thank you for being so honest about your journey and your feelings. You have inspired thousands with your courage and attitude, and I pray you feel the love and admiration of all you touch through your blog. God uses our darkest days to bring light to the world, and He is using you in a mighty way!

    • 1010ParkPlace January 29, 2017 at 10:40 pm

      I hope so, Susan. I love Him and want to honor and give thanks for all He’s done for me. Thank you, for saying that. xoxox

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