Sexuality is an important and rewarding part of life. But many cancer survivors experience physical and emotional changes after cancer treatment that can affect how they feel about their sexual health and intimate relationships. If you have concerns about sex or intimacy after cancer treatment, our Clinical Social Work and Occupational Therapy programs can help.
Some of the more common areas that cancer survivors experience issues with include:
Cancer can have an impact on your relationships. Some common issues include having trouble talking about your experiences or facing challenges with romantic relationships and intimacy. If you’re having difficulty with relationships, intimacy or any of these areas after cancer, City of Hope’s clinical social workers can help.
Communicating With Family and Friends
Just as your body changes, your relationships might also change or carry scars that need time to heal. The best approach is to have honest and open conversations with your loved ones about what you’re going through.
When talking with family or friends, remember:
To be patient with yourself and loved ones
If there’s something on your mind, share it.
Don’t try to hide your feelings. Closing yourself off isolates you from the support you need.
Get help, if you are struggling to communicate with family and friends
Cancer often leaves physical and emotional scars that are difficult to share, including issues with sexual function, loss of fertility, hair loss or scars. While dating can feel challenging, try not to let cancer be an excuse to avoid meeting new people.
Think about dating as a way to build a social life you enjoy.
Meet people by engaging in activities you like, such as concerts, classes or joining clubs.
Build a sense of friendship and trust before sharing your cancer journey.
Get dating advice from friends and other survivors.
Disclosing Your Diagnosis
There’s no right or wrong way to tell others about your cancer experience. Some survivors tell everyone they meet, while others choose to share with select people.
Don’t feel pressured: It’s your story and you get to choose when and how you share it.
Practice: If you’re worried about how someone might react, practice what you will say on your own or with someone you trust.
Be honest: It takes courage to share your experience, and in doing so, you’re encouraging others to be open and honest.
It’s normal to feel like you are getting less attention from friends, family and your medical team when cancer treatment is over. You might also have drifted apart from people you care about or had friends stop coming around because they didn’t know what to do. When dealing with these feelings, remember to:
Be open and honest: Hiding your feelings can cut you off from the support you need.
Join a support group: Many survivors deal with feelings of isolation after cancer, and it’s important to share these experiences.
Participate in activities you enjoy: Doing things you love not only boosts your mood, it can help build your social network.
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More Resources for Cancer Survivors
City of Hope offers a wide range of support services for cancer survivors.