The Bachelor's Lesley Murphy Gets Candid About Intimacy Following Double Mastectomy
Writing a post on her website on Wednesday, titled “The Truth About Intimacy After A Double Mastectomy,” Murphy, 31, spoke to the realities of life post-surgery — “like being careful not to run a brush through my long hair and down my chest,” she says — before discussing how the surgery has affected her intimacy with others.
“I was told about the logistical stuff – what to get before surgery, what I’d need after surgery, all the risks and side effects, etc etc etc,” she wrote. “While I was aware about the lack of sensation, nobody discussed the self-consciousness I’d face when being intimate with someone for the 1st or 5th or 10th time.”
“How exactly do you tell someone that no, that route of foreplay won’t work on me,” she continued. “Nope, still can’t feel anything there. Hey, easy on the squeeze, please. Yeah, that ripple you see there…that’s my new party trick, hope you like it!”
Murphy went on to explain that although it was “intimidating as hell in the beginning,” to be honest with her partner, the experience only helped “fuel” her self-love and acceptance.
“I can’t lie to you. Not all days are rainbows and daisies,” she admitted. “I have an inner critic that frequently tells me my chest isn’t normal. Then, my inner best friend comes into play and says DIFFERENT is SEXY, and she always wins. Feeling or no feeling, your partner should find you sexy because you are, not because you’re brave or because they feel an obligation to say certain words to your face.”
“If you’re someone who is super attached to your breasts, losing a body part can feel similar to grief,” Murphy added. “In the end, we must work through the pain and accept the ‘new’ and healthier versions of ourselves. Suffering, of any kind, connects us all… reminding us that we are all beautiful no matter the route we choose.”
In addition to intimacy, Murphy discussed the different options offered for reconstructive surgery and a “new technique designed to restore sensation in breasts after surgery” called ReSensation.
“I think it’s so important to speak openly about this topic year-round, but October 17th, Breast Reconstruction Awareness Day, is a timely opportunity to get the convo going, especially about new options like ReSensation,” she wrote.
Murphy also shared a post to Instagram on Wednesday in honor of the awareness initiative, alongside two topless shots of herself outside, and encouraged her followers to read her blog post.
In the first artsy photo, Murphy covers her breasts with her arms while her lower half is covered with a towel. The second features her sitting naked in a flower-lined bathtub, leaning forward to cover her chest while smelling a hibiscus flower.
The Bachelor star revealed that she was undergoing a double mastectomy in April after learning that she carries the BRCA 2 gene, which puts her at a higher risk of developing breast cancer. Her mother is currently in remission from her own breast cancer diagnosis in 2014.
Murphy, who finished in fifth place during Sean Lowe’s season, first posted about her upcoming surgery in July 2017.
“In a few hours I’ll be back in the hospital completing a task I knew I’d set out to do the moment I found out I was BRCA 2 positive,” she wrote. “Knowledge is power and I feel powerful knowing I kicked cancer’s ass before it could kick mine.”
RELATED VIDEO: ‘Bachelor’ Alum Lesley Murphy Undergoes Preventative Double Mastectomy Nearly 3 Years Following Her Mother’s Breast Cancer Diagnosis
In the time between her double mastectomy and implant surgery, doctors placed an expander in place of her breasts, which stretch the tissue to make room for an implant. Murphy then received regular injections of a saltwater solution to inflate the expander.
“In just 83 days, I went from a completely flat chest in horrific pain to somewhere around a comfortable C-cup. Well… as comfortable as I can be in these expanders. The best way I can describe them is like two big boulders on my chest,” she said.
Opening up to PEOPLE after undergoing the procedure, Murphy said she didn’t think twice about getting a double mastectomy.
“It was a no hesitation thing,” she said. “You know, I don’t really want to be sitting on these potentially cancerous cells. Like, why hang on to something that is a ticking time bomb?”