Recently I was contacted by a young woman, a doctoral candidate in health communication at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia. She asked me to assist her in finding participants for her research project which is focusing on breast cancer survivorship and sexual health.
How could I say no?
Most of us realize the heavy toll breast cancer takes on every aspect of a woman’s life, including her sexual health.
In Cancerland, the topic of sex is one that thankfully is being brought up more and more frequently these days, but it’s still mostly an avoided one.
My doctors certainly never brought it up.
No doubt about it, sex can be an awkward topic to tackle, but yet our silence only makes it more so.
Of course when going through cancer treatment, tackling the cancer has to be the top concern, but it seems ironic that when breasts are the focus of the disease and treatment, there is still often little or no discussion about the impact of all this on a woman’s total well-being, including her sexual health.
When you think about it, how could breast cancer not impact a woman’s sexual health?
And yet, we still dance around the topic and mostly just avoid it altogether.
But back to this study…
This particular study involves taking a short online survey.
The questions are, of course, very personal in nature, so you need to feel comfortable with this. At the conclusion of the survey, participants will be asked if they would be willing to do a telephone interview as well. Of course this, too, is voluntary.
The aim of the study is to better understand how survivors manage sexual health concerns after completing primary treatment, a time when they may have less access to oncologists and when they may be trying to rebuild their sexual selves, renegotiate relationships and find balance. Two hospitals have agreed to allow this researcher to design and test a new training program for physicians based on the insights of patients.
As the researcher said to me in her own words:
This project is personal for me and I care deeply about this issue. Breast cancer runs in my family. I know that many important issues are difficult to talk about and may fall through the cracks when we’re faced with so many other challenges. My doctoral committee has cautioned me against examining such a sensitive topic, but I truly feel those are the topics we need to discuss so that people do not suffer in silence.
Do not suffer in silence; gosh, I wonder how many times I’ve said that right here on this blog!
So again, how could I say no?
You know that old saying, if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem?
Well, what could be easier than filling out a survey and thus becoming part of the solution?
Here is the project website: Sexual Health in Breast Cancer Survivorship. Click on the link for further information about this project and about this researcher. It will also lead you to the survey link.
I hope you’ll take a look at the survey and consider adding your voice by filling it out.
If you’re not comfortable doing so, you can still help by sharing this post or the info in it.
Thank you from both of us!
Has breast cancer impacted your sexual health?
Do you take part in surveys, why or why not?
Would you like to read more posts on this topic?