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What do we need to be aware of when we face cancer…what questions do we need to ask:

  • My qualities: I can be young, I can be old, in a relationship or single, gay or heterosexual. Sex can be an important part of my life or not.
  • My partner: Can be able to handle the stress of a partner being diagnosed with cancer or not. Is at times supportive and at times feels helpless during the illness trajectory.
  • The type of cancer: Some cancers are far away from sexual organs and some are localized in genital areas. Some cancers give us a high rate of survivorship, while others are more aggressive and push us towards facing end of life.
  • Cancer incidence: Some cancers have a high incidence rate (like breast cancer in women and prostate cancer in males) others are rare.
  • Culture: The culture and society we live in does influence the type of health care service we are offered and if talking about sex and cancer is a taboo.
  • Treatment options: Some treatments barely influence our quality of life and relationships, other treatment impact these drastically.

All these factors need to be taken into consideration when discussing sexuality and intimacy with our health care providers.

 

Anna Catania is a counsellor with Willingness. She has had a special interest in working with clients facing intimacy and sexual difficulties and runs a service for families going through cancer and chronic illness. She can be contacted on anna@willingness.com.mt