It’s so important to have safe, supportive places like this where patients can bond and bare all. I was standing in line to check in at the plastic surgeon’s last week when a woman tapped me on the shoulder. “Did you write about your breast reconstruction for the University of Washington alumni magazine?Did your cancer and treatment lead to sexual side effects? Please join me and the folks at Fred Hutch tomorrow (August 4) at 10 a.m. ” I nodded and introduced myself and the two of us talked “shop” for a few minutes. As I said in the story, cancer cuts us to our sexual quick. Here’s a link to Part 1, which covers the sexual aftermath of cancer treatment and how surgery, chemo, radiation and hormone treatments — all those things they do to keep us alive — can cause all kinds of sexual side effects, from fatigue and body image issues to erectile dysfunction and vaginismus.
Both were kind and courageous enough to talk about the sexual challenges they’ve faced since treatment and I can’t thank them enough for their candor and insights.
Many thanks, also, to Nicki Boscia Durlester and her private breast and ovarian cancer Facebook group, Beyond the Pink Moon.
I tackled the topic last week in a two-part series for Fred Men struggle with impotence; women are plunged into menopause decades before they would naturally arrive; and many are left to sort it all out on their own. Because people often don’t feel comfortable talking about this stuff – not doctors, not patients, not even their partners.
And here’s Part 2, which offers a few experts tips and tricks that we as patients can use to hack our post-treatment sex life.
I never talked about my boobs that much until I got breast cancer.
Ironic, I know, since the creepy crab monster pretty much stole my boobs. But since I was diagnosed, had a double mastectomy, stumbled through treatment and most recently, started down the path toward reconstruction, it seems like all I do is blather on and on about my girls.
And now, god help me, I’m not just talking about them – or writing about them – I’m baring my chest, and my soul, in new and very public ways.
As I said, it’s not easy to write about this stuff or talk about this stuff.
So I’d like to give a huge shout out to two amazing patients: stage 4 anal cancer patient Michele Longabaugh and testicular cancer patient Jon Dibblee.