Testimonial: "I reclaimed my body after breast cancer"

Three years ago, Estelle Lang learns that she has breast cancer. Chemotherapy, radiotherapy, removal of both breasts. His body was not spared in this ordeal. But throughout these three years that led to the healing, this nurse aged 35 has kept in touch with him. Author of "Equal Arms, Accepting and Exceeding Her Breast Cancer" (Jouvence) and a blog "Turtle vs. Crab", she gives us her story.

"One of the first attacks on my body was a catheter, things were well done, the scar was not visible, and yet that mark, despite all the illnesses that I have been left with since remains the most painful, it reminds me of this treatment so painful, it says "cancer" on my skin.I also plan to cover it with a tattoo: it will be my way to tell the disease that She lost to me, with chemo I started to lose my hair and soon decided to shave my head.With my ball to zero, I liked it: my smooth skull gave me the I was a warrior and that's what I wanted to be, but the day my eyelashes and eyebrows stayed on my washcloth, it was a terrible shock: I no longer recognized myself as a socio-beautician. from the hospital taught me how to draw eyebrows, make a pencil line on my eyelids to give the illusion I had never put on my makeup (even on my wedding day!) I started to take a liking to it. I tested all shades of blush on my eyelids, all shades of blush to erase the dull look of the disease, all the colors of scarves on my head. I have never been so feminine as at this time!

My cancer being due to a genetic mutation, with a high risk of recurrence, I did not feel the energy to go back there one day. So I decided, as a matter of course, to have both breasts removed. My husband agreed with this decision to choose life. Before the intervention, I took the time to say goodbye to my breasts, to look at them in the mirror, to photograph them, to touch them. To have no regrets. I had a very heavy operation, eleven o'clock. At the same time as the ablation, the surgeon performed a breast reconstruction, with the fat of my belly. The idea that a piece of me was just going to migrate and that I would not have a foreign body was pretty seductive. When I woke up, I wanted to see the result very quickly and I was quite satisfied. Apart from the fact that I had more areolas and nipples and I had to get used to this "nudity", not to see them point in certain circumstances. More boring, I had no sensation, pubic to the top of the breasts. It still has not come back and it may never come back. At first, it was quite disturbing, as if this part of my body had become a ghost, more completely alive. But I did not let go, I listened, I listened to my new breasts! Since then, every time I feel even a tiny sensation, heaviness, a little tugging, I find it deeply moving. The most complicated was the reaction of my husband, his shifty eyes, his hesitation to touch me, his difficulties to talk about it. I did not expect that, neither did he. In his eyes, I was mutilated when I did not feel that at first sight. I finally decided to complete the reconstruction with a graft of areolas and nipples. It was the missing piece in the puzzle: I'm whole again! ".

The analysis of Valérie Sugg, psycho-oncologist in hospital, author of "Cancer: without taboo or trumpet" (Kawa)

Estelle's story is emblematic of the courage and combativeness that is observed in cancer patients. In this battle, it is their impulses of life that are at work against the death which hovers, it is Eros who stands against Thanatos. Estelle testifies to the fact that she mobilized all her forces to overcome the successive bodily losses she suffered as a result of the disease. By shaving her head, she spared herself from finding every day piles of hair on her pillow and her clothes, to notice from day to day a deterioration of her physiognomy, an attack on her identity and her femininity. Because behind the loss of hair and elsewhere of all the hair on the body, including pubic, that's all that is at stake. Through the almost playful relationship it has with makeup and scarves, transparent this same quest to preserve, at all costs, her image of woman and her seductive abilities. His idea of ​​covering his scar with a tattoo is also part of this process to transform, almost transcend, the traces left by the disease on his body. To "fill" the mutilation she experienced with the removal of her two breasts, Estelle chose the immediate reconstruction. This solution is not medically possible for all women, not desired either by some who feel good in their body with a flat chest or prefer to give themselves time to mourn their breasts before any decision. But for her, that's what made her feel whole again. And even if the sensations are no longer at the rendezvous, Estelle is very kind to this part of her bruised body and become insensitive, patience and listening. She does not brutalize but respects his pace, determined to take the time to tame. His partner, he is more difficult to connect to those breasts he does not recognize, who do not "respond" to his stimulation, which are no longer a source of pleasure for her. After such a shake-up, reinventing a different sexuality is a must and not always easy.

To read : " How to live your cancer every day ", by Caroline Paufichet-Burnouf, published by La Martinière Editions In this guide, the author, who herself has been diagnosed with breast cancer, delivers a multitude of tracks to take care of herself, of the announcement from illness to resilience, a very useful companion and, above all, very comforting!

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