As we have mentioned before, our team comprises a crossover of many generations. All of us have experienced cancer within our families in one manner or the other.
There is one common denominator for cancer patients. Each and every person’s cancer and their response to treatment and return to normalcy is different for each person. There also is no set timeline for normal to happen again.
If you have progressed through diagnosis, treatment and a favorable prognosis, take a quick assessment of your current situation.
What was your definition of normal before your diagnosis? How was your intimacy and sexual relationship prior to cancer? Have you and your partner discussed what changes to expect regarding a return to a sexual relationship after cancer?
There can be long periods of abstinence involved with going through cancer treatment and its myriad side effects. While the survivor may be recovered, the lingering aftereffects can be devastating. A lack of desire may be present. Fatigue and apprehension regarding possible significant changes to what has been “normal” up to this point may remain as well. Open and honest communication can ease some of the performance anxiety you may be feeling. Be assured, your partner is also worried about the same things that you are. Your lives are changed forever by cancer. Moving forward together is an integral part of your healing process.
We previously wrote about Performance Anxiety in our blog post, Make Your Partner A High Priority, to read that article click here.
Easing into a new pattern in the bedroom can take some time. Be sure you plan with enough time for exploration, experimenting, and finding the perfect new way to pleasure each other. Whether extended foreplay is required now or, new areas of sensitivities need to be discussed, being willing to openly discuss what is working and what is not will help you both achieve a heightened level of intimacy that may not have been present before cancer.
Women with breast cancer can have severe anxiety about resuming a sexual relationship. This anxiety can affect desire and response to your partner. This can affect the level of intimacy, and the relationship as a whole. Depression can be a factor with breast cancer treatment, including mood swings as well as a constant worry about cancer recurrence.
If you are experiencing sexual side effects as a result of your treatment, talk to your treatment team immediately. An honest discussion could solve your immediate problems. If additional assistance is required, they may make a referral for specialized counseling. The important thing to keep in mind is that you are not alone. There is an entire family of survivors that have support groups to assist you in getting back to your life. They have been there and can relate to what you are experiencing completely.
Touch often, hold hands and snuggle. Physical contact is crucial to maintaining intimacy in a difficult time.
Any insecurities that you are feeling are completely normal. Start repeating all of the things that gave you joy before your cancer diagnosis. Adding activities you enjoy will help speed your recovery.
“Cancer can touch you, but not your soul; neither your thoughts, nor your heart.”
― Vikrmn, Guru with Guitar