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. And even though it felt like I was walking around in my underpants when the stories came out (I talked a little bit about my own experience in this realm), I’m glad I covered it because it’s a big issue for cancer patients and it doesn’t get a ton of attention. Sex after cancer has become the elephant in the bedroom.They are painting a portrait for those of us still here of what is to come.I hate the idea of having someone love me and then putting them through that.I never really opened up and talked about the fear I live with every day.
As a professional oncology social worker at Cancer Care, I have found that there is no right or wrong when addressing the challenges of dating but there are ways to provide support along the way.
Along with these challenges are a seemingly endless trail of thoughts and questions: When will I feel ready to start dating again? But no matter where a person is in their cancer journey, whether they have a new diagnosis, are in active treatment, or are posttreatment survivors, to have fears and concerns about dating and sexual intimacy is normal.
Empowering these patients to build upon their strengths so as not to let these fears adversely affect their current relationships or prevent them from pursuing future relationships can play a huge role in the healing process.
Your partner on the other hand may feel, that after treatment, everything will go back to the way it once was. Explain to them how things have changed for you and what that means for your relationship.
You might like to visit a counsellor together to discuss some of these issues in more detail.