WISH - Restoring Sexual Health After Cancer
As few as 10 years ago, when a woman was diagnosed with cancer, her sole concern was survival. Today, with dramatic improvements in survival rates, patients focus on their quality of life after treatment, remission or recovery. New treatments mean women can return to caring for their families, to work, to active lives. And to sex.
"People underestimate the importance of sex to normalcy," says David Kushner, MD, director of the UW Carbone Cancer Center's Gynecologic Oncology program. Although women often think about post-treatment intimacy, they may not feel comfortable talking about it.
After initial treatment women tend not to think about sexuality, he explains. However, between three months to two years after treatment they begin to realize they want understanding, need information and deserve help.
Women sometimes approach the subject themselves; sometimes they wait to be asked. The majority of questions are based on fear: of pain, of causing pain for their partner, of triggering a cancer recurrence, of infertility.
A new program, unique to the UW Carbone Cancer Center, called WISH, Women's Integrative Sexual Health, will provide resources, emotional support and most important, reassurance that no woman is alone.
UW Carbone Cancer Center is helping women address the sensitive, and often misunderstood, frightening and embarrassing issues surrounding cancer and sexuality. Women of any age, with any cancer diagnosis, are invited to attend a free 90-minute educational session to learn more about female health and cancer.