A mother claims she has not had sex with her fiancé in more than two years after a double mastectomy left her feeling ‘unfeminine’.
Claire Almey, 42, had both breasts removed in July 2017 to help her beat stage-three cancer.
Now in remission, the mother-of-three alleges she has been waiting two years for reconstructive surgery. She has reportedly been told it may take another 12 months.
Ms Almey, of Swadlincote, Derbyshire, claims she is ‘living in limbo’ and ‘hasn’t felt like a woman’ since losing her 34D chest.
Although her fiancé Jon, 40, insists he is still attracted to her, Ms Almey refuses to be intimate. She is even putting off their wedding because she ‘can’t imagine walking down the aisle like this’.
Claire Almey claims she has not had sex with her fiancé in more than two years after a double mastectomy left her feeling unfeminine. The mother-of-three (pictured) claims she has been waiting two years for reconstructive surgery and has been told it may take another 12 months
Ms Almey and her fiancé Jon (pictured together before she became ill) used to have regular sex but have not been intimate since she had both breasts removed. He insists he still finds Ms Almey attractive, however, she ‘does not feel like a woman’ since losing her 34D chest
Speaking of the ordeal, Ms Almey said: ‘I don’t feel like a woman any more, I’m just nothing.
‘My fiancé and I haven’t had a sexual relationship since the operation.
‘I’m just living in limbo until my reconstruction, but it’s been over two years now and they still haven’t set a date for the surgery.
‘I feel I can’t move on with my life until that happens, it’s just been awful.’
Ms Almey was introduced to her now-fiancé Jon, 40, in 2007 through a mutual friend. The couple, who have two children together, got engaged in 2013.
Their wedding plans were put on hold when Ms Almey found a lump in her left breast in December 2016.
With her own mother dying of breast cancer at just 59, Ms Almey went straight to her GP. She was referred to Burton Hospital, where doctors found lumps in both breasts.
After multiple tests, Ms Almey was diagnosed with grade two lobular breast cancer. This starts in the cells that line the glands where milk is produced.
Ms Almey (left) claims she is ‘in limbo’ while she awaits a procedure to reconstruct her breasts using fat and skin from her abdomen. She is pictured right undergoing cancer treatment
Ms Almey claims the mastectomy caused her mental health to plummet, with her no longer having the confidence to go on a family holiday. She is pictured with her children, two of which she shares with her fiancé. Left-to-right: Esme, nine, Joseph, seven and Kaitlin, 14
Following her double mastectomy, Ms Almey had lymph nodes removed on her left side. She then underwent chemo, radiotherapy and hormone therapy.
Ms Almey was forced to wait until her radiotherapy ended in March last year to discuss her breast reconstruction.
This is due to how the cancer treatment affects skin elasticity. Doctors have to give the body time to recover before assessing if the skin can support an implant.
Ms Almey eventually met with surgeons at the Nottingham Breast Institute in June to discuss her reconstructive surgery. Specialists plan to use fat and skin from her abdomen to make two new breasts.
However, Ms Almey claims she has been put on a 12-month waiting list for the procedure, which caused her mental health to plummet.
‘I suffer from quite bad depression and anxiety as a result of my mastectomy,’ she said. ‘I don’t like going out to places or having my photo taken any more.
‘We haven’t been on holiday as a family in two years now because of how anxious I get being around other people, constantly thinking they’re looking at me.
‘I feel like I look horrendous and I’ve had to have counselling because of how low I feel.’
Ms Almey was forced to endure chemo, which caused her to lose her hair
She is pictured ringing the ‘end of treatment bell’ after beating the disease
Ms Almey is also putting off her wedding until she feels more confident.
‘We’re waiting until I have my reconstruction to get married as I can’t imagine walking down the aisle like this,’ she said. ‘I just want to feel a little bit of normal, like I used to.’
Although her fiancé insists he is still attracted to her, Ms Almey refuses to get intimate.
‘Our sex life is just non existent now because I don’t feel like a woman should do anymore,’ she said.
‘I don’t feel sexy or feminine. Jon says he doesn’t care but I can’t get my head around it.’
A spokesperson for University Hospitals of Derby and Burton said: ‘Breast reconstruction is an option for women who have had a mastectomy after they’ve recovered from other treatments.
‘The type of reconstruction and timeline varies as everyone’s journey through cancer is unique depending on their diagnosis, treatment and recovery.’
Mr Stephen McCulley, consultant plastic surgeon at Nottingham University Hospitals, added: ‘Breast reconstruction is a highly complex procedure particularly when using microsurgery techniques to build breast from parts of the body like the tummy skin and fat.
‘We aim to ensure patients are operated on in a timely fashion, with the needs of each individual at the very heart of everything we do.
‘Surgery by our highly-trained clinicians can take up to 10 hours to complete for the most complex cases.
‘This can make scheduling challenging but we endeavour to provide the best possible experience and outcomes for our patients.’
WHAT IS A DOUBLE MASTECTOMY?
A double mastectomy is the removal of both breasts.
This is a way of treating breast cancer and is often done to women who are at a high risk of the disease returning after therapy.
The treatment may also be suitable for women who are unable to have radiation therapy, have a tumour larger than 5cm across or have a mutation, such as in the BRCA gene, that increases their cancer risk.
Most women stay in hospital for one or two nights but are able to return to their regular activities within around four weeks.
Side effects can include pain, swelling, a build up of blood or fluid at the surgery site, limited arm movement and numbness in the chest or upper arm.
After surgery, some women may wish to have the breast mound rebuilt to restore its appearance in breast reconstruction surgery.
Some patients may require other treatment after a mastectomy such as radiation, chemo or hormone therapy.
Source: American Cancer Society