As you all probably know by now, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month here in the states. During this month, doctors, activists, survivors, and friends/families/loved ones of survivors and victims of the disease work hard to promote breast cancer awareness, share information, and provide access to screenings. As both HotMoviesForHer bloggers have family members affected by breast cancer, we decided to join in the fight by speaking up about cancer and sexuality, and help make a taboo subject a little sexier.
Cancer is not sexy, it’s just true. But cancer survivors and people fighting cancer can be sexy – and interested in sex, and have sex, and want sex. Basically, they are not asexual. I know, this sounds like a pretty straightforward idea, but it’s pretty common for people with cancer and cancer survivors become de-sexualized in the eyes of others. It’s especially true of many medical providers who consistently forgo mentioning sex and sexuality to their patients during their conversations about day-to-day differences of living with/surviving the disease.
While we are not medical professionals, we do know a thing or two about sex – so here we offer 4 tips for navigating sex and breast cancer.
1. Communication! As with anything sexual, one of the biggest barriers to sex and cancer is the lack of communication about it – between doctor and patient, between partners, and even between the brain and body of a person fighting the disease. People tend to focus on the illness and forget that there is a whole person attached to that cancer. And one part of being a whole person is having a sexual identity and sexual needs. Just because someone has cancer doesn’t mean that they are cancer.
Because cancer affects every person differently, it’s important for everyone involved to openly communicate their desires, wants and needs. This is no time for assumptions. Communication is definitely one of the most important components of sex, cancer or no cancer involved, but it is especially important when you are dealing with someone whose sex drive and physical abilities may have changed due to the disease or its treatment.
If it’s too hard to start with talking about cancer and sex with your partner, try journaling or writing them a letter. This is a less intimidating way to communicate with your partner, but definitely gets your messages across. And don’t forget, sometimes sexy drawings help too!
2. Having any kind of surgery on your breasts (mastectomy, lumpectomy, reconstruction- heck, even a breast reduction) can change your relationship with your breasts, as well as change sensation in your breasts and nipples. Be sure to have plenty of communication around how you’d like your partner to touch you and how you are feeling about your altered body.