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Linda Dackman was 34 when she had a mastectomy. She had no way to find help as a single woman looking for a relationship, wanting to know when and how to tell about her mastectomy and her disease. She wrote the book Up Front: Sex and the Post-Mastectomy Womana personal of how she coped with these problems unfortunately out of print, but worth tracking down in a library or a used book store. Each time she met someone new, Linda had to struggle with when and how to tell, and then how to behave in intimate situations. In the beginning, she would blurt out her history almost immediately, frightening herself and her date.


If I was going to potentially consider marriage with someone, I felt that I needed to understand my risk of developing cancer. After receiving theI was comforted by the fact that I was settled in a committed relationship.

When’s the right time to tell someone you have one breast?

Suddenly, in addition to having to figure out how to schedule numerous pre-op appointments, I now had to worry about how I would explain my BRCA mutation status to potential partners. Or as I said to a friend, I thought I had locked down someone who had to love me and my breasts no matter what and now I had to start all over again.

I was genuinely scared that my high risk of developing cancer along with the fact that I would have reconstructed breasts would prevent anyone from wanting to be in a serious relationship with me. I was also worried about intimacy with a new partner and a new body.

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I decided to take a break from dating while I prepared for my surgery. From September through the end of that year, I deleted all of my online dating apps and solely focused on myself.

A couple of months after my surgery I thought I was ready to start dating again so I re-downloaded all of the apps and set a goal of going on at least one date a week. In reality, I should have continued to focus on myself.

I was still processing all of the emotions associated with the surgery and losing my breasts at the age of I cringe now to think of all the awkward dates I went on during that time period. On one date, when I was asked why I was still single, I launched into a long rambling story about my mutation and my surgery.

Needless to say there was not a second date. During my self imposed hiatus, I started to ask myself what I actually wanted from a partner and a partnership. Before my BRCA diagnosis, my requirements were admittedly a bit shallow: someone who made a lot of money, someone who bought me nice things and who would look nice in photos. Additionally, in part through conversations with my therapist, my anxiety around disclosing my mutation status lessened.

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As she reminded me, everyone has something that they are uncomfortable discussing with romantic partners. Roughly a year and a half into my hiatus, I went to a poetry reading to support a friend and took notice of this poet who read an amazing poem about Chicago and cheese friends. Immediately after the event I asked our mutual contact for an introduction. I will admit that discussing my mutation was easier with him. My first real that he was a keeper was after I mentioned I had an upcoming ovarian cancer screening and how much they stressed me out.

The next day a delivery of my favorite candy showed up at my office. After dating for almost four years, we got engaged in late November Although there are still challenges to come thinking about having children and whether we would want to take steps to prevent passing on my mutation, future surgery to reduce my ovarian cancer risk I feel confident that we have a strong foundation from which to face them together. Be the first to hear progress updates, inspiring stories, and new ways you can act to prevent breast and ovarian cancer.

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