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Important Research re Sexuality and Breast Cancer

Posted 8/2/2014

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  We all agree that sexuality and intimacy are important and challenging issues for women (and their partners) during and after breast cancer. Everyone's intimate life takes a big hit with this diagnosis and through treatment. For most women, the situation gradually improves with time and attention, but is can be difficult, and it may never return to what you remember pre-cancer.

  We talk about this a lot in my office. When it is an individual or a couple with me in the room, the discussion is always serious and tender. When it is a group discussion, there tends to be a lot of humor. The first time that I realized how pervasive and tough this issue is was many years ago when the discussion turned to :" What would you rather do than have sex on a rainy Sunday afternoon?". When the answers included things like scrub the kitchen floor, clean out the junk drawer, or go to an urgent dental appointment, it was clear there is a big problem.

  Some of you may recall that I posted information about a research study being conducted by Mollie Rose Canzona about this issue. I know that some of you responded, because I heard later from you that you had appreciated the opportunity to think about your experience and to know that someone is paying attention. I am sharing here an email that I just received from Mollie about the expansion of her study to include a questionnaire for partners. If you have a husband or partner who would be willing to participate, it would be great.

  This is Mollie from the Breast Cancer Survivorship & Sexual Health Project. I've really enjoyed receiving your emails. You are providing a great resource for women. Your messages include so much interesting and useful information. I also want to thank you for helping me spread the word about our work. So far I have conducted interviews with 35 women of all ages and treatment types/time periods since treatment. I have never been more convinced that this is important and I believe these stories will help women coping with these issues now and well into the future. I don't think I am violating privacy/confidentiality by telling you many of the women I've talked to mentioned you. They are so appreciative of the work you do.
I'm writing to ask another favor. For this phase of research the goal is to include not only breast cancer survivors, but also spouses/partners of current survivors. Sexual health is relational for many women and based on my interviews it's clear to me that hearing spouses/partners perspectives is crucial to understanding these experiences overall and helping couples cope. However, we're having so much trouble finding spouses/partners who are interested in participating that we may have to abandon this aspect of the project, which would be a great shame (especially since the participants have expressed that they're greatly in need of these resources). We only need 5-10 more men to participate in order to keep this going.
Our project website has been updated to include a tab for spouses/partners to indicate their interest and send me an email.


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