June 08, 2023

Talking About Sex and Cancer


One of the greatest parts of writing my book, Everything Changes: The Insider’s Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s, was having complete strangers talk to me about the intimate details of their sex life. Here’s Mary Ann, from Chapter 9 ‘It Girl’:

“From my head to toes, I have been affected by cancer. Every part of my body has changed. I don’t feel sexy or female. I feel mutilated. I feel different, like an it. Feeling attractive goes into and is combined with feeling sexy, which might put you in the mood. Usually, I don’t feel like I’m in that mood. When you have been married for nine months, people think you are making love every night. I feel like we should be engaged in it all the time, and we are not.”

As young adult cancer survivors, we’re on hormonal roller coasters, missing body parts, wrestling with anxiety, reacting to medications, treatments, and transplants, and managing our ever fluctuating self image. These are not the easiest ingredients for a smooth sex life and it’s time we started talking about it and figuring out how to make sex work better for us.

Tonight, Monday, June 8th, 9 PM, EST is the ‘Sex, Sex, and More Sex’ episode of the Stupid Cancer Show. We’ll have two sexperts - Sage Bolte and Sueann Marks, on air focusing for an entire hour on cancer and sex. We’ll also be giving away to listeners three free copies of The Guide To Getting It On.

If you have any questions you want asked on air about sex and cancer, it is not too late to leave them in the comment section of this blog post (remember, they can be anonymous). And thanks to you who have already sent me your juicy questions!

What have you always wanted to ask about sex and cancer? Have you ever talked to a sex therapist before?  Have you ever brought up sexual issues with your docs?  How did they respond?  Were they educated, informed, embarrassed?

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  1. Cathy Bueti Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 9:02 AM

    Kairol, it was such a great show last nite! You guys all rocked it!! So honest and candid! I kept thinking how I wished that something like that was around 8 years ago when I was going through my own cancer treatment as a young single girl! I never brought up the topic because I was too embarrassed and my docs didn’t either. What a great way to get the conversation started and keeping it going!

  2. violet lorien Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 9:21 AM

    i just wanted to thank you for this blog and your work. i was diagnosed with stage 3B malignant melanoma just before christmas in 2004 and spent more than two years recovering from the 6 months of high dose interferon treatment in 2005. during my treatment and recovery i found few others in support groups and infusion rooms that were in my age group or could relate to my experiences. it’s great to look through this blog and find many things i can actually relate to. i’m very glad you’re here and sharing all of this.

  3. Kairol Rosenthal Says:
    June 9th, 2009 at 12:23 PM

    Your comment, Violet, reminded me of this passage from my book Everything Changes: “I had lived with cancer for three years before learning that 70,000 young adults in their twenties and thirties are diagnosed with cancer in the United States every year. With this many young cancer patients sniffing anesthesia in operating rooms, absorbing beams of radiation, and sitting in chemo chairs across the country, I was astounded that I and so many others felt so alone.” This is exactly what I wrote my book and am glad that you are finding it useful. Best, Kairol

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