Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Courage Sex and Cancer

Tonight, for the first time, I feel like I really get what courage means in CancerLand.

I was part of a panel at The American Cancer Society Hope Club in Latham, New York. We were bravely and boldly discussing what sex is and can be when a partner has cancer or/and is receiving treatment—or what happens after treatment to men’s and women’s bodies.

Much of my perspective is represented on this blog—the crazy hunt for honest and frank information, my belief that sex is so important especially during cancer—that when a couple is faced with the pain and fear and just plain crap of cancer that a healthy sexual relationship is a way to keep love strong and to boldly defy thanatos—the death wish.

So I read and spoke to all of that. And then…

And then Vicki Yattaw, RN from the CR Woods Cancer Center spoke about sex and cancer. Oh my God—this was the sex talk that every woman wants to hear—with or without cancer Vickie had the info, advice, perspective and loving humor on everything from how to have sex in every possible way, during every kind of health crisis, how to boost your own libido and help a partner boost theirs, and even “BoBs”—battery operated boyfriends.

Her information blew me away. I thought I shocked the crowd by sharing my story of having to ask John’s oncologist, “Can I swallow?” (The doc didn’t know). Vickie not only knew—(wait 48 hours after chemo) but she explained how people with colostomies have sex (they do and it can be great) and how orgasms decrease nerve pain and make you look younger. Yes!

I’ll share more of her info here in the next few weeks. But I have to say now that the best speakers of the evening were the participants in the group: some couples and many singles who had or have cancer and who want a sexual life now and later. People spoke so deeply and honestly—because Vickie set the stage for all of us to use sexual words—and showed me that everyone—young or old, plain or pretty, coupled or not—want good sex lives.

And thanks to Tracy Pitcher, MSW—Director of The Hope Club and Vickie Yattaw RN—there is the start of open conversation about love—and sex!--in the time of cancer.

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