Intimacy and cancer

Posted by Iowakate @katehedderich, Feb 4, 2021

My husband and I have not been intimate since my cancer (glioblastoma) diagnosis (5 years now). At first it was due to fatigue. But now I don’t know why. I try to talk to him about it but he avoids the subject. Anyone else having this issue?

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@katehedderich

Thanks for your perspective. It helps. And I was not offended by anything you said.

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Thank you. Hoped it helped and don’t hesitate to ask any questions.

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@katehedderich Hello. I just deleted my long reply giving a lot of details (and ended up making this longere, sorry) but main thing I wanted to say was many years ago I had "heavy" external and internal radiation for cancer of cervix stage 2. In my early forties and four years in to second marriage and great love life, I had to go to a hospital about 4 hours drive there and back, so stayed there.. he visited me at beginning and end of treatment as income low, had job and also looking after stepdaughter etc. No computers, Ipads, cell phones etc. Because of a bad drug reaction etc (a story in itself) I was away 2.5 months. I also returned home with depression and anorexia (nothing to do with wanting to be thin) and was off work another 2.5 months. Our lives had taken a hit…intimacy returned a bit but something lacking. Six months later we moved and extra bedroom…. which I moved into and that was the END of intimacy. That was 36 years ago. He also diagnozed with diabetes and I think the medication he took played some part….. but we never really talked about it or sought advice. For me, after sexually active for the past 22 years in first marriage and dating after, to be quite truthful I accepted it… maybe as the radiation had "forced" menopause by radiating the ovaries and uterus (no surgery as tumour too large) and I was put on hormone therapy. I don't think he had a girlfriend on the side!!!
We got on with our jobs, small family both sides, new house, but separate bedrooms and still have separate rooms.
I cannot offer advice to anyone else, but wanted you to know that things like this do "happen"…. and although I accepted it, I would really suggest if you wish a life with intimacy that you, or your husband, or both of you seek some counselling or ? because sometimes these things are temporary – which I hope yours is – or "permanent" and looking back possibly I should have done things differently but we still enjoyed our life together and its been 40 years now.
Hope this helps in some small way , as others have said, you and your spouse are not alone in this … cancer, depression, illness, even money troubles or problems with children, a job, stress, etc. can affect either or both partners in a marriage or relationship in many many ways, and I agree, brave you for initiating the conversation. (hope my sharing helps in some small way) J.

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@dutchw

I also applaud you for breaching this issue, your a brave woman. As a man, perhaps I can offer some suggestions. Have you tried initiating intimacy and telling your husband of your desires? My ex-wife had breast cancer, I was hesitant to initiate intimacy out of fear of rejection because of the cancer. I didn’t want to talk about it either. One night she was very blunt, assured me she still loved me, told me what she wanted/needed and initiated sex. It took several times of her doing the initiating until things returned to normal. Sometimes us men aren’t the smartest tool in the shed and need a push. If ED is an issue, insist he talk about it, get help or the blue pill if necessary. I’ll try answering your questions if you feel comfortable talking to me. Never give up.

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As a man, I will say sex is not like a switch (on/off). There are many factors mostly in our heads that might cause us to avoid sex.
When we are young the switch never gets turned off. However, as we age and our partner's age there are little voices in our male heads that cause doubt about the switch coming on. So rather than find out for sure we might avoid sex altogether. The blue pill does not make us horny. First, we have to be aroused then it helps get and maintain an erection. However, if that little voice won't shut up it ain't gonna happen. Been there done all of this over the years.

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@lacy2

@katehedderich Hello. I just deleted my long reply giving a lot of details (and ended up making this longere, sorry) but main thing I wanted to say was many years ago I had "heavy" external and internal radiation for cancer of cervix stage 2. In my early forties and four years in to second marriage and great love life, I had to go to a hospital about 4 hours drive there and back, so stayed there.. he visited me at beginning and end of treatment as income low, had job and also looking after stepdaughter etc. No computers, Ipads, cell phones etc. Because of a bad drug reaction etc (a story in itself) I was away 2.5 months. I also returned home with depression and anorexia (nothing to do with wanting to be thin) and was off work another 2.5 months. Our lives had taken a hit…intimacy returned a bit but something lacking. Six months later we moved and extra bedroom…. which I moved into and that was the END of intimacy. That was 36 years ago. He also diagnozed with diabetes and I think the medication he took played some part….. but we never really talked about it or sought advice. For me, after sexually active for the past 22 years in first marriage and dating after, to be quite truthful I accepted it… maybe as the radiation had "forced" menopause by radiating the ovaries and uterus (no surgery as tumour too large) and I was put on hormone therapy. I don't think he had a girlfriend on the side!!!
We got on with our jobs, small family both sides, new house, but separate bedrooms and still have separate rooms.
I cannot offer advice to anyone else, but wanted you to know that things like this do "happen"…. and although I accepted it, I would really suggest if you wish a life with intimacy that you, or your husband, or both of you seek some counselling or ? because sometimes these things are temporary – which I hope yours is – or "permanent" and looking back possibly I should have done things differently but we still enjoyed our life together and its been 40 years now.
Hope this helps in some small way , as others have said, you and your spouse are not alone in this … cancer, depression, illness, even money troubles or problems with children, a job, stress, etc. can affect either or both partners in a marriage or relationship in many many ways, and I agree, brave you for initiating the conversation. (hope my sharing helps in some small way) J.

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Thank you for responding. Everyone has given me a lot to think about.

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….well at least we can discuss this in an adult fashion and its such a personal thing and as maze says, many factors to consider… I think the thing I wanted to say most was that for me it was a long time ago and even 35 years ago such topics were not discussed online etc. but now can be…in this scenario "cancer" seems to have been, or may have been, a factor – dealing with it, the stress, etc. and couples have separated over it…. I didn't read the mentor , Becky's, suggested resource but maybe that will be of help kate….. best of luck , and hope you stay healthy (hugs) J.

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@mazeppabob

As a man, I will say sex is not like a switch (on/off). There are many factors mostly in our heads that might cause us to avoid sex.
When we are young the switch never gets turned off. However, as we age and our partner's age there are little voices in our male heads that cause doubt about the switch coming on. So rather than find out for sure we might avoid sex altogether. The blue pill does not make us horny. First, we have to be aroused then it helps get and maintain an erection. However, if that little voice won't shut up it ain't gonna happen. Been there done all of this over the years.

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Regarding the little voices in our little male brains. I should have added that while Viagra does not get us aroused it is a huge confidence booster. Sometimes that is all it takes to quiet those anoying voices. Generic Viagra (sildenafil) is really cheap now. Use the GoodRx app when you pay. In most cases less than $1 a pill. However it still requires a prescription, but even that can be done online now.
(confidence-confidence)!!

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@1nan

@katehedderich Welcome to Connect. And congratulations on trusting us with a subject many cancer patients have as concern but are hesitant to discuss. There are so many losses experienced in a cancer journey including those involving sexual intimacy. You say that you have tried unsuccessfully to discuss this with your husband. If you have had open discussions in the past, this certainly must be an additional loss if not feel like new rejection. If those discussions weren’t part of your relationships, what options to obtain help do you have that might be acceptable to your husband? Again, I applaud your trust and honesty. It speaks well of your relationship. Peace, Nancy

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I am glad somebody asked. I was wondering if you can have sex while dealing with cancer. I have 3 small tremors in my pelvic area, I had a total hysterectomy. So I was wondering if those tumors would pop or dislodge or something. Soooo, is this possible?

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I was just reading about this issue just yesterday for information. My husband was diagnosed in July 2019 and the intimacy has been void since. Back in chemo now for Colon Cancer metastatized to liver. Hoping to focus on this in near future. 🙏🏻 Although I understand it will take some work as things have changed. I appreciate you sharing the question to the group. I have no doubt that others are impacted and may share knowledge or resources.

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@dutchw

Hope I didn’t say anything inappropriate or offensive. I just wanted to give an honest answer to a honest valid question.

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It is appreciated. Well phrased in my opinion. Thank you.

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@lacy2

@katehedderich Hello. I just deleted my long reply giving a lot of details (and ended up making this longere, sorry) but main thing I wanted to say was many years ago I had "heavy" external and internal radiation for cancer of cervix stage 2. In my early forties and four years in to second marriage and great love life, I had to go to a hospital about 4 hours drive there and back, so stayed there.. he visited me at beginning and end of treatment as income low, had job and also looking after stepdaughter etc. No computers, Ipads, cell phones etc. Because of a bad drug reaction etc (a story in itself) I was away 2.5 months. I also returned home with depression and anorexia (nothing to do with wanting to be thin) and was off work another 2.5 months. Our lives had taken a hit…intimacy returned a bit but something lacking. Six months later we moved and extra bedroom…. which I moved into and that was the END of intimacy. That was 36 years ago. He also diagnozed with diabetes and I think the medication he took played some part….. but we never really talked about it or sought advice. For me, after sexually active for the past 22 years in first marriage and dating after, to be quite truthful I accepted it… maybe as the radiation had "forced" menopause by radiating the ovaries and uterus (no surgery as tumour too large) and I was put on hormone therapy. I don't think he had a girlfriend on the side!!!
We got on with our jobs, small family both sides, new house, but separate bedrooms and still have separate rooms.
I cannot offer advice to anyone else, but wanted you to know that things like this do "happen"…. and although I accepted it, I would really suggest if you wish a life with intimacy that you, or your husband, or both of you seek some counselling or ? because sometimes these things are temporary – which I hope yours is – or "permanent" and looking back possibly I should have done things differently but we still enjoyed our life together and its been 40 years now.
Hope this helps in some small way , as others have said, you and your spouse are not alone in this … cancer, depression, illness, even money troubles or problems with children, a job, stress, etc. can affect either or both partners in a marriage or relationship in many many ways, and I agree, brave you for initiating the conversation. (hope my sharing helps in some small way) J.

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Thanks for sharing your story and insights.

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