Baldies' Blog began originally in the UK by a 26 year old journalist with a blood cancer on a mission to inform the world about bone marrow donation.

He has since died, and I took on the cause of making cancer care more transparent for everybody.

Cancer is a disease that will touch everybody through diagnosis or affiliation: 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed and 1 in 3 woman will hear those words, "You Have Cancer."

I invite you to read how I feel along my journey and
how I am continuing to live a full life alongside my Hodgkin's lymphoma, with me controlling my cancer, not my cancer controlling me.

I hope that "Baldies' Blog" will prepare you to handle whatever life sends you, but especially if it's the message, "You Have Cancer."

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Saving Sexuality

I’m writing this on behalf of my husband.
It’s important to him that every woman knows, and tells their man, that there is sex after chemo. Maybe not during, but your sex life will come back.
It may be different, and that’s what we’re here to help with.
Feelings towards sexuality during and after treatment may depend on your specific type of cancer and course of treatment. However, there are some basic, across the spectrum problems that all couples should be aware of.
Cancer will affect your sex life. Just as having a child, starting your career, and aging may change your priorities and how you behave in the bedroom, cancer will as well.
Sex may not be your top priority, but do not be surprised if you experience sexual side effects during treatment. This problem is commonly omitted in discussions with providers.
Fatigue is a common issue among patients. This obviously interferes with enjoyment of everything. Timing can help. Know your good times and schedule accordingly. It may help to schedule medications, such as anti-nausea and pain meds prior to intimacy. If you’re tired, but still want to “give a little up” try changing positions or discussing with your partner that it’s their turn to work. You can make it up later.
A lack of desire can be caused by a number of issues including treatment, surgeries, or hormonal changes. Some women suffer from a lack of desire anyway. I’ve heard suggestions ranging from fantasizing (don’t feel guilty, you can be open with your lover) to exercising (increase endorphins and creates a positive outlook towards yourself.)
I think just snuggling and joking helps.
I can (and women, not only cancer patients) be seduced by reminding me I’m gorgeous, talking, making jokes and making me laugh. Women consider conversation foreplay. Talk like you did when you were dating. Even though you may be married, you still have to impress a girl to get some love.
Honestly, here’s a women secret, most the women I know who refuse to sleep with their husbands do so because they’ve dubbed their man “bad in bed.” They no longer get the love and attention they crave alongside love making.
Men, I guess, don’t need this so much. Just hopping in bed a saying “let’s have sex” is good enough for them. Am I wrong here?
Well, it’s not for women. Men, doing this will send you into month long dry spells or a SEXLESS married life. That just sounds bad to me.
During and post treatment is really a time to improve your communication and attachment to one another as partners, if this is possible. A sex life will survive and even thrive if both parties are considerate to the others needs.
Needs can include understanding, but it can also include accepting bodily changes. Judging bodily changes could get a person blacklisted from bed or from the household completely.
J specifically wanted to discuss coping with chemotherapy induced menopause as a couple.
Yes, chemotherapy can and did send me into menopause at 24 years old.
Menopause, due to a decrease in estrogen, puts me at risk for disease after disease. A lack of estrogen decreases my protection from strokes, heart attacks, osteoporosis (I’m all ready the picture child of risk: Small framed and white), and an increases risk of breast cancer.
It also causes hair to grow in places it shouldn’t grow on a woman, say on the chin or upper lip. There are many ways this can be cared for, such as bleaching, plucking, or electrolysis. I think any woman who feels uncomfortable with this permanent side effect should head straight to the nearest dermatologist for electrolysis.
I’m thinking about getting electrolysis now, and I only have a little “extra” side burn. I don’t see this act as vain. I see it as preserving my womanhood, my attractiveness, my confidence, and my self esteem.
Menopause is psychologically difficult. It is “dewomanizing.” Female characteristics begin to be erased. No menses, no hormonal fluctuations, no possibility of becoming pregnant, no more ovulation, and an increase in testosterone all contribute.
Sexuality is very psychological with women. Few men understand this prior to women experiencing hormonal fluctuations. Maybe, you all think that menopause is the same as PMS?
It’s not. It is PERMANENT, so unless you want to permanently lose your game, listen. Everybody can be happy.
Women, tell your men, without these traits and a love of yourself, you won’t be interested in him sexually. A woman has to love themselves and be confidant to be fun all around. Feel me?
It also causes a lack of libido and mucosal (oral and vaginal) dryness.
Don’t be afraid. We have suggestions. Despite all these problems everybody’s needs can still be satisfied.
We discussed a lack of desire earlier, but also consider expanding your boundaries. Movies or magazines maybe helpful. Maybe you will love role playing and dressing up. I’m saying, don’t knock it until you try it. There are always the obvious agents to turn to: lubricants.
Health therapies may also cause pain. This is not something that can be corrected with pain medications. Discuss it with your doctor, it could possibly be a side effect of medication, such as anti-depressants.
If it is not this reason, consider lubricant. This exists in all sorts of varieties, plan KY, warming solution, and yes, numbing lubricant exists.
I did spend some time in the village people. Don’t you think I “explored” Christopher St.?
Also, with Christmas coming, “Ho, Ho, Ho” parties are all the rage. You may be amazed the kind of sexual goodies that exist. I’m just suggesting a little “exploration.”
I hope I worked this embarrassing subject out with some class. To be honest, it is a little difficult to write. This is why I AM doing this instead of many others who know and understand these side effects or may be experiencing them right now.


Anonymous said...

As always, your candor is refreshing and timely.

I love that you put yourself out into cyberspace in order to help others in the same situation. You talk about things no one else wants to address; this topic in particular needs more light.

When you are married or in a committed relationship, there are two people who experience cancer, you and your partner. As you have expressed so well, open lines of communication and a playful spirit are the best medications available to address the needs of both parties.

Keep up the good work, Hillary.


emjay. said...

Oh girlfriend, this isn't just advice for any man or woman going through cancer, it's for anyone going through life!!!!!! Amen, as always.

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