On March 28th, Living Beyond Breast Cancer will host a free Community Meeting addressing the complex issues of sex and intimacy after diagnosis. In light of that, LBBC introduces a three-part series by our blogger Randi Rentz which provides an honest and frank account of her own experience re-entering the world of intimacy. Please note, this blog has a very mature theme and may not be suitable to all audiences.
Help! My sex life is stuck in neutral and I need some maintenance. I know I am up for one of the biggest challenges in my dating career, too. How do I mention the topic of my breast cancer with potential prospects in the vast ocean of dating? Am I ever going to have sex again?
Before my surgery, chemo, and radiation, I had a normal sex life and I now realize that I miss it. I also miss the cuddling and the human touch. I’m really scared that my vagina has shrunk down to the size of a toothpick. A little voice in my head keeps telling me, “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”
I consult my oncologist’s office regarding seminars on sexuality and cancer and am told there is a workshop on sexuality and breast cancer the following week at the hospital. It sounds like something I should attend; however, I’m very embarrassed to discuss this issue with strangers. Maybe I can audit the workshop and not say a word. I can be invisible, or maybe a fly on the wall.
The workshop stays in the back of my mind as I contemplate dating in general. It is hard enough, but when you have had breast cancer, hardly any hair, and a breast that has scars, that is another story. I am struggling with my sexuality and self-esteem. Can I ever meet a guy who will love me for who I am on the inside, while ignoring the scars and lack of hair on the outside?
I am fixated on this topic and discuss it with a new friend who I met in radiation. She nodded sympathetically when I told her my crisis. “You may want to try a dildo or vibrator to stretch out your va-jay-jay, Rand. Start out small and then you can decide if it’s for you.”
Oh. My. God! She gave me the name of a sex toy shop downtown and suggested I take a few friends and make a party out of it. I’m not looking for a party; I’m looking for real sexuality and intimacy not a plastic substitute. On the other hand, maybe she was right. Maybe I need a little jump start to get the engine running again.
I’ve used sex toys before in previous relationships just to spice things up and admit that it’s fun with a partner. I now look at it like going to the dentist which I can’t stand. I’ve never had an orgasm when I’ve had a drill or floss in my mouth. Maybe it’s true. Maybe I do need a little help in this department, but I’m not making a party out of it. I need to find my courage to do this nasty deed by myself. My mantra comes back to me and I get myself ready to go on my hush-hush adventure.
To learn more about Randi or to read additional excepts from her book, Why Buy a Wig…When You Can Buy Diamonds!, you can visit her website. If you are in the Philadelphia area, please join us for our free Community Meeting on sex and intimacy at the Loews Hotel. You can find additional resources on our website, including our Understanding Guides. LBBC is currently taking pre-orders for “Intimacy and Sexuality” the newest title in its expanding “Understanding Breast Cancer” series.