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Joined: Sep 2003

I need some advice regarding intimacy with my boyfriend. I have tried to broach the subject with my doctors but they deflect and avoid my questions. I don't really know if it's because they are not used to dealing with ppl. my age (I'm 21) or if they are simply insensitive. Anyways, in my experience cancer survivors are often more helpful than medical professionals! My boyfriend and I are high-school sweethearts and we have been together for over three years. Before my diagnosis last January, we had a solid relationship. Since my diagnosis, I feel that we have drifted and I feel like he is more of a good friend than romantic partner. We have not been intimate in over a year and I am beginning to feel his frustration. I am physically healed from my major course of therapy and could be physical with him, however it is very hard. I have a colostomy which has made me somewhat self-conscious. In terms of physical obstacles, I have been through menopause and radiation in my pelvic region. I also had a partial vaginectomy, so anatomically it is very difficult to be intimate. We have tried on two occasions to be intimate, however it did not work. The situation is upsetting and I simply feel like less of a girlfriend and woman. I am hopefully going to be on treatment soon for metastases in my lungs and liver. However, I do not know what kind of effects the treatments will have and I assume I will not feel as well as I presently do. If there is anything I have learned by having cancer it is to do what you want TODAY because tomorrow may never come. I would like to bring back the intimacy to our relationship, for him, myself and to strengthen our relationship so we can face the progression of the disease together. Does anyone have any suggestions concerning body image or what to do after a partial vaginectomy? Also, after seeing me so sick and taking care of me at times, does he still view me as attractive?

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2598
Joined: Apr 2003

Hello again, andreae -

Obviously, I cannot speak from a woman's point of view about intimacy or body image (although - shhhh - I have been known to wear fishnets to go see the Rocky Horror Picture Show!) Anyway...

From a man's perspective; intimacy for many men (OK, MOST men) is less cerebral and more physical. There are so many ways to be intimate though and a partial vaginectomy should not really interfere. One thing about us guys is that we don't want to hurt (physically) our partner. that may be part of the problem. It sounds like you have a deep emotional connection with your BF and that's good, that indicates that a large portion of your intimacy may be cerebral. I suggest talking with him and being COMPLETELY open and frank. It may be uncomfortable, embarrassing, or out of character for one or both of you, but once you get things out on the table, you can openly discuss them. (Perhaps a bottle of wine - I know, emily would object - would help relax you guys pre-talk). It is important that he see you not as his "patient" or his "ward" but as his GF. Sometimes that's a tough image to surpass. I'm sure some of the female semi-colons here can talk to you about things you can do to help there.

I guess my message is "communicate" and be as honest, open, frank, and... well... explicit as you can be. Things will work through. You're right, I learned the same lesson you did: Don't put off for tomorrow....

Be well.

- SB

Posts: 3
Joined: Oct 2003

Your boyfriend is probably too immature to understand your situation.At the age of 21,no one is ready for that kind of responsibility.You should consider going for counselling with him or without him so that you can understand better your situation.Good luck

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001


I cannot answer about the physical limitations that you may be experiencing with regards to your vaginectomy, but I can tell you that it was a LONG time before I had any energy...physically or emotionally to put any effort into intimacy with my hubby. So the fact that you are even willing is huge in my book.

I agree with Sponge (even if he is known to cross dress) that communication is key. Does your BF even think of you as less than a woman? Would you thing him less of a man if he had lost a testicle to cancer?

Is he willing to go the long haul with you on this? Then I would go for the counseling. Having to deal with cancer is hard work at any age, but I think it would be really hard at your young age.

As for body image.....the only thing post op that I had to deal with was a long ugly scar from belly button on down and my Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner taught me how to send it love vibes while I rubbed the scar with oil. It probably sounds hokey but it worked.

As for being attractive to your BF the one to ask is him and then believe it YOURSELF that you are!

As for the wine I will not comment hahaha!

peace, emily

spongebob's picture
Posts: 2598
Joined: Apr 2003

Love vibes? Have you been getting into my wine?

Good advice as always, emily.

(and BTW, I happened to look GOOD in a corset and fishnets)

2bhealed's picture
Posts: 2085
Joined: Dec 2001

well if you told her to smoke a little reefer.....

throw a toast! a la fishnets. you really cannot get away from the sea can you?

peace, patrick

Posts: 6
Joined: Mar 2003

You have been given a lot of good advice. There are a couple web sites with discussion boards that you can get a lot of info on your question. There many posts on the subject. Both are very active.

http://www.ostomates.org/ As I remember there is a page devoted to it. Wishing you happiness. Walter

Posts: 20
Joined: Jul 2003

Hi again, andreae! I don't know if you've been to http://www.planetcancer.org, but it's a web site for young adults with cancer. You might want to check it out.

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