We have had a so-so sex life. In stories people have 'great sex' or 'fantastic orgasms', or else they don't. No-one writes about mediocre sex lives or ordinary orgasms. Sex for me was often hard work. I grew up to want a partner who I could respect and treat as an equal. She wanted to be chased and dominated and raped (her word not mine). I wanted to look, she wanted to hide. I was frustrated that she didn't often climax, although she said she had never done at all before she met me.
I had been rather shy. I had got to age 40 unmarried. I was intelligent and fairly good looking but I didn't meet many girls and somehow they didn't see me as a potential husband. I wanted a family, my own children, but most women I met already had children and didn't particularly want more.
I like breasts. Cleavage, bra-less nipples, wet tee shirts, topless sunbathing, large or small, firm or floppy, I love them all. I am definitely a 'tit man' ( is a shy tit man a titmouse?). So when we married, my bride's 36DD's were not far from my mind. Not to say that I married her bust. She was exciting in lots of ways and challenging too, an exotic Russian, intelligent and educated, a strong will from her Tatar ancestors. She had admired and studied the English language all her life and loved to just hear me talk. Her full figure was definitely the icing on the cake and satisfied decades of longing.
Before we married I thought a lot about the christian marriage vows, even though we did not have a church wedding. In sickness and in health, for better or worse etc. We were 40 already and it wouldn't be long before age started to show, and our looks would fade. Marriage could mean spending the rest of my life supporting her through illness long after the physical attraction had gone. The alternative, of making a promise I might not be able to keep, was unthinkable. Such a commitment had to be based mainly on psychological attraction if it was to work. After six months together I believed that we could cope with each other's personality flaws, that our strengths played to the other's weaknesses but who can predict how that will develop in the long term.
My worst fear was of breast cancer leaving her mutilated, and returning me to the lonely frustration of the last 20 years but this time without the hope of relief. While I was single there was always the hope I would meet someone tomorrow. Would I be able to live with her like that, or would I break the vows I had implicitly taken? Was it worth the risk for a perhaps brief physical satisfaction? I could see that if I backed away now then I would never marry anyone. I took the plunge, hoping that if it happened, by then I would have outgrown my fascination with breasts.
We both wanted sex more than we got it. There was a barrier between us that we never quite conquered. The problem was initial arousal. Once we got to the undressed and touching stage I was very aroused, and could arouse her. If I was stressed I didn't get turned on in the first place and nothing happened. This frustrated her and made her complain about my lack of performance. Nothing turned me off more than her complaining about sex or money. Usually it took a serious effort of will to break through this barrier.
It worked well enough. We had a baby girl, Natasha, the next year. She is beautiful and very intelligent, she has the best features of both of us. We made love regularly all through the pregnancy and through post natal incontinence( with towels on the bed), although not so often because the urine washed away the natural lubricants and left me with painful abrasions afterwards.
Three years later my nightmare came true. First she complained that her left breast hurt and asked me not to touch it when we made love. I could still look, but as it got worse, I began to look at it differently. The arousal from looking became tainted by the knowledge that something was wrong. I concentrated my attentions to the good side and began sometimes to pretend to myself that the left one wasn't there. I learned, when on top, to always support my weight on my right arm and caress with my left. I suppose preparing for the eventuality of mastectomy, even though we didn't know it was cancer then.
It was nine months before the medical profession finally admitted she had cancer and removed the breast. Watching her lovely parts being skewered like a kebab for a biopsy was something of a shock. She had a multifocal agressive cancer involving many lymph nodes, and it would have meant a full mastectomy even if it had been diagnosed immediately. Her head-turning bust was no more. I think it took her longer to learn to look at the scar than it did me. She had been struggling to accept that she had reached middle age and that men could walk past her without staring. This loss really was just too much.
After surgery, chemo- and radio-therapies she was treated with tamoxifen hormone therapy, and later also with arimidex. A friend said tamoxifen would destroy our sex life and she would cease to be female. This was not true. Maybe she did find it a bit harder to reach orgasm, but it was never easy, and certainly she put on some weight, but that was all. Six months later, the same friend, catching sight of her in a home video, said "What a lard bucket", then "Oh shit, sorry" when he recognised her.
At first I carried on as before, ignoring the missing side, pretending I was still pretending it wasn't there. As the scar healed. I began to stroke and caress the scar area too. I could get used to her unbalanced shape. And she still looked just as sexy as ever from one side. Just think of it as camera angles - everyone has better and worse angles to view from.
While travelling last summer, a few weeks before the symptoms of metastasis became serious, we happened upon a bathing area on bend in a coutryside river. It was hot, and we went for a swim. Her one large breast, moving bra-less under the wet blouse was intensely erotic and I would have made love to her right there in the cold water if our daughter hadn't been watching.
After metastasis her weight came off, as sickness and constipation destroyed her appetite, but by then she didn't have much energy for sex either. Of course most of the weight came off her breast and upper body, leaving a band around her waist. It's hard to say whether the cancer or the treatments caused her symptoms. As the spinal tumours multiplied and the morphine dose increased, she became very sleepy and lethargic and did not seem much in touch with reality at all. She had more radiotherapy to her spine, chemotherapy was planned and the hormone therapy was stopped in anticipation of this.
When she started chemotherapy (taxol/epirubicin) it became apparent that being on her feet for any length of time was impratical and it would be better to reduce the analgesia to the level needed in bed, and accept that she couldn't be both mobile and pain free. The analgesic was reduced and changed to Fentanyl patches. She made an immediate improvement and continued to get better. The sickness vanished, except when travelling. Constipation came more under control as she learnt to take a regular dose of laxatives. Her appetite came back.
She had very little side effect from the chemo, except the usual hair loss. She looks great with no hair, strong features and small ears add to an attractive bald look. We are a rather hairless family. I have advanced male-pattern baldness (although plenty in my beard), and our son has a fashionable short cut, dyed blond and almost invisible, so all the hair is on our daughter, who has it down to her chest.
She is still gaining energy and alertness. It is hard to identify the cause, there were so many changes. She had radiotherapy, and stopped hormone therapy, then she started chemotherapy, then changed analgesics. Any one or combination could have been responsible. Not only is she more alert, recovering her sense of humour and interest in sex, but she also gets up more, and stops when she is tired rather than when crippled by pain.
After months of her sleeping through my coming to bed and getting up, it was wonderful to one morning to find her awake and responding to my caresses. She said I hadn't done that for ages. I had, she'd just been to vegetative to notice.
At the same time X-rays show a further deterioration in her spine, so much that the doctors have decided to apply further radiotherapy during the chemotherapy. It could be that the X-ray information is already out of date, as the previous shot was a month or so before chemo started. Or it could be an advance indication of worse to come. No-one seems to know just now. We are crossing our fingers and everything else and hoping.