Mum says double mastectomy has ‘destroyed’ her sex life and left her with depression

Claire has been depressed since the mastectomy (Picture: Claie Almey /SWNS.COM)

A mum of three has told how living without breasts after a double mastectomy has ‘destroyed’ her sex life and her confidence, and left her needing counselling.

Claire Almey, 42, hasn’t had a sexual relationship with her fiance Jon, 40, in over two years, saying she doesn’t feel sexy or feminine after her operation.

She had surgery to remove her 34D breasts after being diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in July 2017, and is now in remission.

But the treatment means she’s had to wait two years for new boobs, and might have to wait another 12 months for a reconstruction.

She’s speaking out to give others hope and show they are not alone.

Claire said: ‘I don’t feel like a woman any more, I’m just nothing. My fiance and I haven’t had a sexual relationship since the operation.

‘I’m just living in limbo until my reconstruction, but it’s been over two years now and they still haven’t set a date for the surgery.

She says her sex life has been destroyed (Picture: SWNS)

‘I feel that I can’t move on with my life until that happens, and it’s just been awful.’

Claire first started dating fiance Jon 12 years ago, after a mutual friend set the pair up in 2007. The couple share two children together, and were excited to tie the knot when they got engaged in 2013.

The engaged pair had a regular sex life before her mastectomy, which she said played a big part in their relationship.

Claire’s own mother had died of breast cancer at the age of 59, and when Claire found a lump in her left breast in December 2016, she immediately went to the doctor.

Multiple appointments at Burton Hospital proved her instincts were right when doctors diagnosed her with grade two lobular breast cancer.

Lumps were found in both breasts and the brave mum underwent a double mastectomy in July 2017.

Claire and Jon had a healthy sex life before the surgery (Picture: Claie Almey /SWNS.COM)

Following her surgery, Claire then had lymph nodes on her left side removed before undergoing a course of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and endocrine therapy.

As Claire required radiotherapy after her mastectomy, the mum had to wait a whole year after her radiotherapy treatment ended in March 2018 to discuss her reconstructive surgery.

The wait is needed because radiotherapy affects the elasticity of the skin and doctors have to give the body time to recover before assessing if the skin is of a good enough quality to support an implant.

Claire eventually met with plastic surgeons in June 2019 to discuss her reconstructive surgery at the Nottingham Breast Institute where specialists will use fat and skin from her stomach to make two new breasts.

But now she said she has joined a 12 month waiting list, she is still waiting for a date, and said her mental health has suffered as a result.

Claire said: ‘I suffer from quite bad depression and anxiety as a result of my mastectomy.

It may be another year before Claire can have her surgery (Picture: Claie Almey /SWNS.COM)

‘I don’t like going out to places or having my photo taken any more,’ she says.

‘We haven’t been on holiday as a family in two years now because of how anxious I get being around other people, constantly thinking they’re looking at me.

‘I feel like I look horrendous and I’ve had to have counselling because of how low I feel.

‘We’re waiting until I have my reconstruction to get married as I can’t imagine walking down the aisle like this. I just want to feel a little bit of normal, like I used to.

‘Jon has been my rock throughout this, he’s so supportive and has been incredible in helping me, but our sex life is just non existent now because I don’t feel like a woman should do anymore.

‘I don’t feel sexy or feminine. Jon says he doesn’t care, but I can’t get my head around it.’

A spokesperson for University Hospitals of Derby and Burton said: ‘Breast reconstruction is an option for women who have had a mastectomy after they’ve recovered from other treatments.

‘The type of reconstruction and timeline varies as everyone’s journey through cancer is unique depending on their diagnosis, treatment and recovery.’

Mr Stephen McCulley, Consultant Plastic Surgeon at Nottingham University Hospitals, said: ‘Breast reconstruction is a highly complex procedure particularly when using microsurgery techniques to build breast from parts of the body like the tummy skin and fat.

‘Nottingham University hospitals are one of the country’s leading centres for breast reconstructive surgery.

‘We aim to ensure that patients are operated on in a timely fashion, with the needs of each individual at the very heart of everything we do.

‘Surgery by our highly-trained clinicians can take up to ten hours to complete for the most complex cases. This can make scheduling challenging, but we endeavour to provide the best possible experience and outcomes for our patients.’

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