I was transfixed on this topic as we end the breast cancer awareness month. I had a rather difficult time finding individuals to discuss this topic that is rarely discussed. I mean as black people we generally don’t discuss health, sex or finance and yet those three subjects tend to polarize the majority of our lives. When looking into breast cancer some of the statistics was startling: As presented in a document by the National Cancer Institute -
· An estimated 26,840 new cases of breast cancer are expected to occur among African American women in 2010.
· The incidence rate of breast cancer among women under 45 is higher for African American women compared to white women.
· Breast cancer is the second most common cause of cancer death among African American women, exceeded only by lung cancer.
· The higher mortality rate in African-American women may be related to differences in access to and utilization of early detection and treatment and differences in tumor characteristics.
Hence the conversation – is there quality sex after breast cancer? Sex is not limited to the actual act – it is also personal worth, personal appeal, and personal acceptance. I had two women on the talk radio show today who both were breast cancer survivors. One woman was married during the time and the other was not. One experienced rejection from her spouse and the other was focused on the rearing of her son and hadn’t taken the time to reflect on her disfigured body. Many of us were moved to tears when the married woman shared, “I was in the shower with my bald head and one breast and my husband couldn’t look at me.” We were stunned. No one knew what to say, and my being the most host knew now was not the time to tell her that negro never loved her in the first place. I was hot and yet there are many stories like hers. My guest told us that after having been married for 12 years, admitting there had been a superficial aspect to their relationship, both kept themselves in great shape, her trials and disfigured nature didn’t have the ability to keep their surface relationship in place.One of my dear friends who was moved to tears told me about a woman at our church who has cancer. She shared how she was wearing a hat and she asked her if she could see her head. Lovingly my friend kissed her head and embraced her, immediately I said that’s exactly what my guest husband should have done. Another friend told me of a couple she knew where the wife had lost her hair due to chemotherapy and the husband to show his support shaved his head! Now that’s love. Cancer is a difficult time for all especially the one who has it. It is not the time for criticism or scrutiny. It is a time of celebrating life, love, and memories.
The beauty about the women on the show was that both stated they were much better women because of their journey. They felt that God had truly kept them, sustained them, and prepared them for their continued journey. One woman had reconstructive surgery and stated her feelings of wholeness and the other said she really hadn’t considered it. Both women have been cancer free for almost five years. So I guess the answer to the question is there sex after breast cancer is a resounding yes, make sure that your relationships are not based upon an external but an internal love. Ensure that you both take to heart the part of the vows that says “for better or worse in sickness and in health til death do you part.”
I say to my sisters who are breast cancer survivors and to those who are going through this very traumatic time – you are more than your breast. God will give you beauty for these ashes, and there is sunshine after the storm. My God continue to keep you safe under His wings of protection.