Berman Sexual Health


Berman & Berman
For Women Only

01:29:23 Dr. Jennifer Berman OC
We're back and focusing on breasts and sexuality. And keeping breasts healthy is something?

Jennifer Berman, M.D.

?a lot of women don't even think about, even though breast cancer is the second deadliest cancer in the United States. We recently met a woman who was faced with the terrible news that she had breast cancer, and let's hear her story.

01:29:46 Jenny Nash VO/OC
Hi, Carlin <ph>.

01:29:48 Carlin VO
Hi, mom.

01:29:49 Jenny Nash OC/VO
Hi. I've been married for 13 years, and I'm a mother of two little girls. And I'm a writer. ?cinnamon toast? I was comfortable with my body. I was happy with it. My breasts had changed a lot over
time because of breastfeeding, and I was aware of those changes, but it was nothing that I focused on or thought much about. I tried to watch what I ate, and I exercised and as much as I could with two kids and a busy life, just like anyone else. I just had this feeling that something wasn't right. They found irregularities on the first mammogram, and it took them a while to figure out what they were. I had calcifications that didn't look right, and they tracked them for six months. And when they went back after six months, they found that they were in fact cancerous.

01:30:46 Jenny Nash OC/VO
My reaction was just shock, disbelief. For me, in some ways hearing the word "cancer" wasn't the worst part of it. The worst part was hearing the words "surgeon" and "oncologist." Those words in particular sort of froze me. It was a very aggressive form, and it was throughout all the milk ducts in my breasts. And at that point they told me that I needed to have a mastectomy. A mastectomy itself is not a very complicated or long surgery, but of course psychologically it's just enormous.

01:31:26 Jenny Nash VO/OC
The two people that were the hardest to tell were my kids. There's this sense there's a moment no one's ever going to forget, and am I going to do it right? And, you know, of course, there's no right way to do it. I ultimately decided to reconstruct immediately at the same time as I had the
mastectomy. I had what's called a skin-sparing mastectomy. So, they take the nipple away and they sort of scoop all the breast tissue out and leave the skin. And what they did is they took the fat tissue from my tummy and built me a new breast. And it's a micro-vascular surgery, which mean they sew the blood vessels back together. And they sew the flesh back into place onto the breast.

01:32:11 Jenny Nash VO/OC
I'm really happy with my reconstruction. I'm thrilled with it, in fact. You can't tell, can you? There's not a scar that you can see, unless I'm naked. I have a scar up under my arm, and this scar is hard to see here, but this patch of skin in the middle is from my tummy. That's my tummy skin. It came from right here. And this is the tattoo, and this is what I look like. And I remember my plastic surgeon telling me, "There will be days that go by that you forget you had breast cancer." And I thought, "Oh, come on, you know." But it's true. It really is true, which is the great
benefit of this surgery that I chose.

01:32:53 Dr. Jennifer Berman OC/VO
Jenny's experience led her to write the book, "The Victoria's Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming," which I love that title. Please welcome Jenny Nash. You're doing well now.

01:33:04 Jenny Nash OC
I'm doing great. It's been two and a half years since my surgery, and I just had a checkup where there was no evidence of disease, which?

01:33:11 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO
All right, good.

01:33:12 Jenny Nash VO
?is what we want.

01:33:12 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO/OC
That's great. How did you feel when you first got the diagnosis?

01:33:17 Jenny Nash OC
Well, the mastectomy news came to me...

Jennie Nash
Author/ Cancer Survivor

?came for me, sort of, into the process. I had a lumpectomy first, which is what the sort of typical protocol is.

01:33:25 Dr. Jennifer Berman OC

01:33:26 Jenny Nash VO/OC
You try to do the lumpectomy and radiation to see if you can get it out, and they couldn't. So, I didn't, I was already sort of into the cancer thing by the time they told me I was going to lose the breast. But that day that they told me was by far the worst day, just getting that news. It was horrifying.

01:33:45 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO

01:33:46 Jenny Nash VO
It was horrifying.

01:33:46 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO/OC
And in terms of how you felt about, in addition to losing the breast and the fear and all that other stuff, how did it affect you in terms of how you felt about your body and your sexuality? What were your concerns there?

01:33:58 Jenny Nash VO/OC
Well, you know, what's interesting about the whole reconstruction process is that you, it happens in the middle of a medical crisis. So, I think sometimes when you're looking at it form the outside, you tend to think what would happen if they called you up today and said, "You have to lose your breast."

01:34:13 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO/OC
Right. The last thing you're thinking about is how it's going to affect?

01:34:14 Jenny Nash VO/OC
Right, right. So, you're dealing with this whole medical thing, you're dealing with this life and death thing, and obviously the sexuality and the femininity is part of it, but it's part of a package. And I think that sometimes we forget that when we think about it. I actually didn't think about it as much before. It was more fear of the surgery, difficulty making the decisions. But it wasn't until after I was done that that whole issue came out for me, and I acted really strangely. I behaved in some really strange ways, actually.

01:34:46 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO
In what way?

01:34:47 Jenny Nash VO/OC
I kept taking my clothes off to show people my new breast. People would want into my house with a casserole, and I'd say, "Look," I, there's a really funny story?

01:34:59 Dr. Jennifer Berman
It's like desensitizing yourself.

01:35:00 Jenny Nash VO/OC
Yeah, yeah. My minister came to visit me in the hospital. She happened to be a woman, and you know, she's, "How are you doing" and all this. And I said, "I'm great. Have you seen it?" and opened my hospital gown. And she was actually very wise because she said, "It looks great Jenny, but have you seen it?"

01:35:18 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO

01:31:19 Jenny Nash OC/VO
And I hadn't looked at it yet. So, it was interesting that she had the wisdom to sort of say, "Well, it's great you're showing everybody in the world, but have you looked at it?" But that definitely was my way of, I wanted all that reaction of people saying, "Wow, it looks great!"

01:35:36 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO
It looks good, the reinforcement. Do you have sensation in that breast at all?

01:35:40 Jenny Nash OC
I have pins and needles sensation and skin sensation, but it's numb for the most part.

01:35:45 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO
It's numb, so there's no erotic sensation there whatsoever?

01:35:48 Jenny Nash VO/OC
No, no, and that's actually the biggest change, the biggest factor that I've had to deal with. I mean, I can get up and get dressed in the morning. I can go to the pool. I can be in a locker room. Nothing affects me. It's mine now, this breast. This new breast is mine. But I don't like my husband touching me?

01:36:08 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO
There on that one.

01:36:08 Jenny Nash OC/VO
?there. Yeah, because I feel like I think it must be what people who lose a limb feel like. I just feel this sort of, like it's not the same?

01:36:18 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO

01:36:18 Jenny Nash OC
It doesn't feel like the other one is out of balance. And I sort of, I sort of, you know, and I don't do that. And that obviously gets in the way of things.

01:36:28 Dr. Jennifer Berman OC
How is this, how has this all affected your daughters and how they feel about breasts and their bodies and so forth?

01:36:36 Jenny Nash VO/OC
They know more about breast cancer, certainly, then they have any right to know, but than a lot of women, to be honest.

01:36:40 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO

01:36:42 Jenny Nash VO/OC
They know that people die and they know that people live. And, the thing that they know that I'm most proud of, though, is that our bodies are our bodies, are ours, no matter what happens to them. No matter what change comes to them, they're still ours, and they, they're so comfortable with themselves and they're comfortable with me. I made a decision to let them see me through the whole process.

01:37:06 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO
Sure, that's important.

01:37:08 Jenny Nash VO/OC
And, you know, we put so much on kids, where we think they're going to flip out over something because we're flipping out over it. And it's nothing to them.

01:37:15 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO/OC
Well, Jenny you've been such an inspiration to other women with breast cancer. What inspired you to go on this, to that crusade helping other women?

01:37:25 Jenny Nash OC/VO
Well, I was a writer before I was a breast cancer patient, and I had really what was the gift of seeing the story in my story. I mean, that's what a writer's trained to do, is to see a story. And in the midst of this tragedy, I was, I was acutely aware of the story. In fact, I'd be in the doctors' offices, and they'd be explaining things to me, and I'd be thinking, "Oh, this is a great dialog, or this is a great scene." And I'd be writing down dialog, instead of writing down the medical stuff.

01:37:53 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO/OC
It might have also been a way for you to cope too, do you think??

01:37:56 Jenny Nash OC
Yeah, yeah.

01:37:57 Dr. Jennifer Berman OC/VO
?like cathartic or therapeutic, just to sort of take an objective role.

01:38:02 Jenny Nash OC/VO
But what I found is that everybody has a story, everybody knows someone who had breast cancer, a sister, a mother, a friend, a co-worker. And everybody has wisdom about it, and we're not often urged to bring them out or share that. And it seems like my story struck this spark in people, read it and feel like, you know, I got wise <ph> too.

01:38:22 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO/OC
Yeah, yeah. Do you have any Victoria Secret lingerie?

01:38:25 Jenny Nash OC/VO
I love that question because I've been touring the country and doing book signings and not one single person has asked me that until today.

01:38:32 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO
Is that right?

01:38:33 Jenny Nash OC/VO
So, I love that question. People always come up to me and they whisper and they say, "You know, we know how to get that catalog to stop coming."

01:38:38 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO
Oh, God!

01:38:39 Jenny Nash OC
And they want to give me an 800 number, you know, like some marketing thing. And, you know, I always want to whisper back and say, "That's not the point."

01:38:46 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO
Yeah, that's true.

01:38:46 Jenny Nash OC/VO
You know what I mean? I do. I have Victoria Secret lingerie.

01:38:49 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO/OC
Yeah, good for you.

01:38:50 Jenny Nash OC
And I'm a little bit of a lingerie junkie these days, which I never was before.

01:38:54 Dr. Jennifer Berman VO/OC
Well, your body looks great.

01:38:56 Jenny Nash VO
Thank you.

01:38:56 Dr. Jennifer Berman OC/VO
Jenny, thank you so much for being here. The book is called, The Victoria's Secret Catalog Never Stops Coming. Jenny Nash, thank you so much for being here. Your questions when we come back. Thanks

01:39:12 Next Questions & Answers

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