Thursday, September 12, 2013

#BloodCancerAwarnessMonth Q&A: "What's with all this sex since my hubby's diagnosis?"

Over the years, I've received thousands of emails about Bald in the Land of Big Hair, a memoir about my experience with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. A cancer diagnosis brings a firestorm of questions, and as a survivor, I can sympathize, but I'm not an expert; many times I just don't have the answers. So this year during Blood Cancer Awareness Month, I've asked Ashley Rodgers (Masters in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling), to respond to some FAQs about the emotional and psychological aspects of the cancer journey. 

Q: Since my husband's cancer diagnosis we've been having sex at least once and sometimes two or three times a day. Is there something horribly wrong with us?

Ashley says: First and foremost, there is nothing wrong with the two of you. It is natural for your sex life and patterns of intimacy to change, especially during a major life event like being diagnosed with cancer. Sometimes couples find that their sexual interactions become less frequent and they rely more on emotional comfort and support from one another; others find that sexual activity brings them the strength and comfort they are looking for.

Specifically regarding your situation, is this frequency uncomfortable for you? Often times people will neglect their own feelings or needs in order to take care of the needs of their loved ones. This is a characteristic of the term co-dependency, which can often be considered a dirty word in society but it means that you care about fulfilling others’ needs before your own. It is important to recognize what your needs are and communicate them to your partner. That way you can come together as a couple with what works for you both equally.

As far as how much is too much or too little, right or wrong does not factor in here. What is right is how much is comfortable for you both as a couple. Communicate with each other and share what you need from your partner. Perhaps your magic combination is sex once a day, and lots of hugs and handholding, or maybe the Do Not Disturb sign never comes down. The idea is to have a happy, healthy sex life full of respect and communication.

For more from the American Cancer Society on how your sex life can be affected by cancer.

Joni says: That's such a sensible approach to a topic that can be kind of powder-keggy for a lot of people. Over the years, that part of the book has generated the most response from readers--both love and hate mail! Thanks for the wise words, Ashley.

We welcome your questions and comments.

*No part of this blog or the book Bald in the Land of Big Hair should be misconstrued as or substituted for medical advice.

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