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JLWorkman

JLWorkman

Total Messages 1

Subject:Cancer Changed A Lot!

Hi - I had partial mastectomy, chemo and radiation 10 years ago.  I was perimenopausal at the time, so was slammed into menopause.

My problem is that I have no sex drive - zero, zilch, nada!  I've been married for 21 years - and things were okay before that.  Not only is no libido an issue - it translates into me not getting hugs, snuggles, physical affection.

Also, I get the feeling that once treatment is over, my husband thought we were done with it.  He doesn't understand that the specter sits on my shoulder 24/7 and although it often fades to almost nothing - there is still anxieties at times.  When I voice concern about a lab test or symptom, I get little support.  It's not like I do it all the time, I'm not attention seeking or manipulating with it - and have come to the point where I just don't talk to him about it as he just doesn't know how to be supportive in the way I want or need.

Any perspectives would be helpful - and please don't tell me to get counceling, I am opening this issue for me on the board because I have the feeling it is very common for many survivors - and feedback is welcome.


Posted: 08 Apr 2009 01:36 PM
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Lhearn

Lhearn

Total Messages 104

Subject:Cancer Changed A Lot!

Thank you for writing and your participation is most appreciated. The issues you raise are common to many breast cancer survivors. While quantity of life is most desired, so is quality of life following treatment.  As you discuss in your note, the impact of treatment affects both patient and partner, in different ways. The loss of intimacy and the fear of recurrence are two major concerns of many cancer survivors.   Both the patient and partner have needs, expectations and perspectives about these issues that are unique to the individual. 

 

Many couples find communication about these differences to be difficult and stressful. Each is grieving in his/her own way the loss of the normal life they had before cancer. Adjusting to the new normal is not easy, and can at times result in conflict, loneliness and misunderstandings.  I often counsel patients to extend an invitation to their partner for a clear and honest discussion about the issues at hand.  Many times, this effort can open the door to a meaningful dialogue.  In other cases, it may require the facilitation of an objective 3rd party to get the ball rolling.

 

 It is my experience in working with many couples, that each partner is wanting to be given air time and permission to discuss their feelings and thoughts in a safe environment, free of criticism or disapproval.  I believe that a skilled oncology psychotherapist can be of help in the re-establishment of closeness, support and intimacy between the patient and loved one. I know at this time that counseling is not of interest, but perhaps it may be in future. Please know that help is out there and you need not go through this alone. 


Posted: 09 Apr 2009 05:29 PM
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sem7707

sem7707

Total Messages 1

Subject:Cancer Changed A Lot!

Dear JL,

I think the issue of a "napping" libido is fairly common for cancer patients.  14 years ago, at age 49, I had stage 3b breast cancer, a double mastectomy and 8 months of chemotherapy.  I lived alone, was new to the area so had no close friends and I had no family that lived closer than 3 hours away.  I was devastated and fell into a deep depression on top of everything.  I was on an anti-depressant for a long time.  Eventually I began to notice that I had no libido...no interest in men.  At least someone had lent me their kitty, so I got to snuggle when I was in the mood.  MDA offered me a very simple test to determine whether or not I was depressed and what level I was.  Based on that, they decided what type of anti-depressant to give me.  I think I was on the first prescription about 3 or 4 years before I noticed my lack of "sex drive".  They changed the prescription and voila...my desires returned!

I don't know if your lack of libido could be related to Tamoxifin or femura.  I couldn't take Tamoxifin until I had survived for 5 years; afterwhich I took it for five years.  My libido issues were not connected with Tamoxifin.

I am a firm believer in talking things out...I create a counseling session with whomever I seem to relate well with regarding the issue at hand.  I've belonged to a number of cancer support groups and they are the best. No one can relate to a cancer survivor quite like another cancer survivor. No, caregivers don't count...they are care givers, not cancer survivors.  I don't know where you live, but someone at MDAnderson or your local American Cancer Society (check out their website, too: www.cancer.org) can hook you up with support groups in your community.  Each group has its own personality; so if you don't like the first one you visit...try another.

Want a hug?  Give one!  Want to be touched?  Touch someone! 

I hope I've been helpful. 

sem7707!


Posted: 13 Apr 2009 06:34 PM
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