Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Imus Cancer Sex

Radio personality Don Imus is diagnosed with prostate cancer. In the newspaper story covering Imus announcement it says, “He noted that doctors seemed reluctant to talk about one of his biggest worries: What the treatment will mean for his sex life.”

No they are not talking about cancer’s impact on one’s sex life because it is taboo. It is a crazy factor across the board in Cancerland that there is no frank discussion about sex and sexuality. Yes there are the euphemistic pamphlets, lots of mentions of intimacy and the dreaded “cuddling” and even advice to “talk to your partner.” But if your doctor and medical team will not talk frankly to you about sex what the heck will that conversation with your partner include? “Was that cuddle good for you?”

In many ways Cancerland is stuck in the 1950’s. I remember the similar pamphlets called “You’re a Young Lady Now” and “Growing Up and Liking It.” One was pink and one was lavender. They were ostensibly about menstruation and sexuality but no body parts were ever shown or discussed. The closest they came was a line drawing of flowery fallopian tubes that looked like exotic plants with tendrils. But they never showed you where these were in the body or God forbid show any relationship to the vagina or the outside world.

Fifty years later when you get colon or breast or prostate cancer you are given more flaccid, pastel booklets advising talking, intimacy and cuddling. Even the feistiest advocates want to talk about empowerment and baldness but never orgasms or fellatio.

The implication is that once you enter Cancerland you won’t care about or like sex anymore. But that’s so backward. When you have cancer life becomes even more precious and sex is nature’s way of screaming at the top of her lungs, “I want to live.”

This is why I started this blog. Someone has to talk about love and sex in the time of cancer. Step up folks and look your doctor in the eye, give the pamphlet back and ask the patient advocate to stop blushing and fumbling. The next time you are at chemo say very loudly, “Is anyone here having sex?”

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