By Diane Mapes / Fred Hutch News Service
Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series on the sexual aftermath of cancer treatment (read Part 1 here). Please join us Aug. 4 at 10 a.m. PT for a Twitter chat about “Sex After Cancer,” where nurse practitioner Leslie Heron will answer your questions. The chat will highlight and expand on some of the topics covered in this series. Use the hashtag #ChatFredHutch to join the conversation on Twitter.
Sex after cancer can be complicated.
Toxic treatment saves your skin in some ways, but totally messes with it in others. Your confidence and sex drive may disappear so fast you’ll half expect to see pictures of them on a milk carton. Your body may become terra incognita almost overnight — completely numb in some areas, hypersensitive in others. Surgery, chemo, radiation and anti-hormone therapy keep you alive, yes, but often there’s a cost: your energy, your erections, your tiny tingles and your big O.
Unfortunately, cancer treatment’s sexual toxicity has become the elephant in the bedroom — and the doctor’s office. Patients, partners and practitioners don’t always want, or even know how, to discuss it with each other.
“We don’t even talk about sex when it’s going well so how can we talk about it when it’s not?” said Leslie Heron, nurse practitioner with the Survivorship Clinic at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, the treatment arm of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
We know it’s tough to talk about this stuff. But we also know there are ways to counteract the collateral damage and replenish and replace that which Mother Nature gave you and treatment took away. Read on for a few tips and tools — some PG-13 — to help you hack your post-cancer sex life. Herewith, your cancer sex Rx.