Intimacy after Breast Cancer by Gina M. Maisano

Monday, January 24th, 2011

“You have survived your cancer. Now start living.” ( p. 170 of the book)

While reading this book, one word came to mind: Bravo!  Bravo, (or, for a woman, Brava! Brava!) That is what should be said to Gina Maisano for sharing what she has experienced as a two-time breast cancer survivor. Bravo! For not being afraid to discuss women’s emotions after breast cancer. And Bravo! For a comprehensive guide to anyone who feels confused, troubled, and distraught about how to deal with her body image and sexuality after cancer—especially after a mastectomy.

The subtitle of Intimacy after Breast Cancer is “Dealing with Your Body, Relationships and Sex,” followed by the statement: “What the Doctor Never Tells You” at the top of the cover page. This is the key to the common sense guide that Maisano has crafted for women who have survived breast cancer.  (Actually, much of the information on relationships can be applied by any woman who needs to boost her relationship with her mate or seeks a dating guide as a single woman.)

The book is divided into two parts. Part One is called “Your Personal Reclamation” and deals with post-treatment, such as possible reconstruction of the breast(s). The author has a healthy sense of humor about her body, as some of the chapter titles indicate. For example, Chapter 4 discusses image reconstruction and Chapter 5 is about a woman’s new breast(s) after reconstruction, she calls this chapter “Getting to Know the New Girls.”*

Part Two deals with topics such as: Reclaiming Your Sexuality, The Single Survivor, and Love. In the second section, the author is “in-your face” honest about how you may feel when you first date after reconstruction, how to tell the men from the boys, considering sex toys to jump start your body, and how to reprogram your thinking as a victim to celebrating your life as a survivor.

Intimacy after Breast Cancer has some helpful resources, such as a Glossary of Terms, available resources such as websites of cancer support organizations, and other references. The author also has a foundation called “The No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation.” ( The name of the foundation is a clue to the positive stance that author Gina Maisano has taken to live her life to the fullest and help other women to do the same.

This excerpted quote from the Conclusion of the book is only one example of Gina’s positive approach to life:

“This journey to the new you starts emotionally…You have physical, emotional, and spiritual wounds…Be patient and kind to yourself, but never settle for the status quo…Never settles for less than anything but love—love for yourself and for those around you” (p. 192). She ends the Conclusion with: “The best is yet to come…”

* My classmate from Douglass College, Mary Lou Meyers, is working on a poetry book and sent me her poem, “Hang in There Girls!” which is a great coda to this chapter. She is also a breast cancer survivor. Will post it in a day or two.

This book is published by Square One Publishers and is available for $16.95 at bookstores or through by clicking on the link below.