Reconstruction following breast cancer surgery has come a long way in the last few decades. Unfortunately, healthcare providers often assume that because the woman's "new" breasts are such cosmetic wonders that she should be thankful for the gain rather than sad for the loss--as if she had thought she owed the IRS money, but got a surprise refund instead.
I recently heard a different story from a colleague who lost her breasts to cancer and has new breasts that were surgically reconstructed. No matter how cosmetically incredible, the new breasts don't have the sensation of her older, less perfect breasts. As she explains, there is quite a disconnect between what she feels and what others see:
"Grief over the loss of sensation does not just go away after talking about it. It comes in waves every time the breast is touched - a sharp reminder that this is a permanent loss! I longingly recall my pre-op imperfect but sensitive breasts. Some therapists believe that women feel better about their sexuality because they get firm and perky breasts to replace the saggy old ones. My reconstruction was a great success. My plastic surgeon wants to use my breast images for his ad book. My female oncologist told me that it was a bonus for all my pain and suffering. I do not think so. There is an assumption that if the breasts look good and the husband likes it, it must be okay."