T O P I C R E V I E W
Member # 75452
posted 04-18-2013 05:59 PM
Over the course of my life, I've had several organ transplants, hundreds of surgeries, and have been on medications that really lowered my ability to fight infections. Most recently, those medicines gave me cancer.
I was diagnosed after being with my amazing boyfriend for about a year. He stuck with me and now the cancer is gone, but it's completely changed our relationship emotionally and physically, and that's what really scares me. Some of the more obvious problems are that cancer has made me even more likely to get sick. When either of us are sick or showing even the slightest symptoms, we're both terrified to touch one another. Before, we had a good time being intimate, with various boundaries discussed and respected. But now, I feel so scared to let him touch me because I'm constantly thinking, "What disease am I going to get next? Does he have a cold or something else that just isn't showing symptoms? Is it worth the risk?" He's just as worried as I am, and he constantly asks if I feel ok, is he hurting me, etc. His consideration is great, but it makes it hard for us to really enjoy anything. Plus over the course of cancer treatment, all my hair fell out, I lost 20 pounds, and I barely have the strength or range of movement to do half the things we used to. Even though he says I'm beautiful, and I know he means it, I can't believe it myself. Lastly, this whole last year has been crazy, which has changed our emotional relationship dramatically. It's becoming harder to relate to one another, because he's away at school and all I can do is sit at home, occasionally going out to tutor or volunteer. We can't hold long conversations about science or academics like we used to, because I can barely understand anything he says. The combination of missing a year of college and chemo brain makes me feel like an idiot, and in the end I feel like I'm not good enough for him anymore. (As a note, he has been incredibly supportive, patient and loving this whole time. No indication he's tired of me or resents my illness. He's the best man I've ever met, and the fact that he stepped up to help when I had cancer when nobody would have blamed him for just forgetting about me just makes it better.) I guess what I'm asking is, how does a person get their romantic and sexual relationship back on track after a disaster like this?
Member # 95710
posted 04-18-2013 06:32 PM
First, I want to say how honoured I am to even be talking to such a wonderful human being. I am so sorry that you have been through so much, and I am hoping you are feeling better today. I'm sorry that I'm not much of an expert when it comes to sexual intimacy or relationships, but I do have a few suggestions that I hope might help: - Is there any physical activity that you and your boyfriend like doing together? Maybe walking, yoga, dancing to music in a room together? Maybe doing some fun stuff like that might make you feel a bit more energized or might make you feel good. I love going for walks and dancing like a weirdo in my room. - What topics do you and your boyfriend like to discuss that you both enjoy? Or maybe start a conversation about something you're passionate about right now, and see what he thinks. Even having silly debates - "what's better, cake or cupcakes?" Might be fun. - What kind of volunteering do you do? Maybe your boyfriend can volunteer with you when he comes to see you, and you can have that experience together. Please take care! It sounds to me like you are a beautiful person on the inside and outside, so I'm sure your boyfriend is right!
Member # 90293
posted 04-18-2013 06:43 PM
I'm so sorry to hear things have been so rough on you, and really glad to hear the cancer is responded so well to treatment. It's not surprising to me that you're struggling with parts of your relationship, not just because there are physical differences and a fear of further illness, but because illness, and going through treatment for illness, is, for most people, a tremendously stressful life event, both for the person experiencing the illness and for their loved ones. I know this doesn't address your questions directly, but I wanted to check in with you about what kind of emotional support you have, either from friends or family, and from your healthcare providers. Do you feel like having more emotional support around your illnesses would be helpful? You ask how to get your romantic and sexual relationship back on track. I don't know any gentler way of saying it than this, so I'll just say, it's most likely to be different. It's most likely not going to be on the same track as before. That doesn't mean though that it can't be really wonderfully fulfilling and sexy for both you and your boyfriend. Does your boyfriend know that you're feeling so down about your appearance, that you know his appreciation of you is sincere but that you're just not at a point where you can appreciate where your body is right now? In terms of getting sick, have your healthcare providers given you any indication of how susceptible you are? What do you think about bringing up this fear of getting sick through contact with your partner with one of your healthcare providers to see if they can give you some perspective on it? Do you have a healthcare provider you would feel comfortable talking to about that? I
Member # 75452
posted 04-18-2013 06:55 PM
I'm feeling better ever day, thanks.
He's teaching me how to play tennis in between snow storms, and we go walking and biking together. Sometimes it's a little difficult to hold silly "what if" conversations, or silly things like dance, because he's very shy and usually pretty serious. Many times, he'll answer a silly question with "Why do you ask? It's not possible anyway." (Not in a mean way. Many times he doesn't understand the point of talking about things that aren't likely or possible.) Buut sometimes if he's in the right mood he gives fascinating answers. I volunteer at a horse-riding therapy center for kids with spectrum disorders. I'm not sure he'd be open to that sort of thing, because he has Asperger's himself. He's pretty sensitive about it, and hates to be reminded. (Though it's not at all noticeable.) But I like your suggestions. Maybe the tennis thing will work out; he's a great teacher. Thank you, Copper! [ 04-18-2013, 06:57 PM: Message edited by: AllIsFullOfLove ]
Member # 75452
posted 04-18-2013 07:30 PM
As far as support goes, my mom has been there financially and physically, which is wonderful. But we never got along, we don't talk much, and her attitude has always been "pull yourself up by the bootstraps" no matter what happens. Emotionally, my boyfriend is all I've had since I graduated two years ago. Most of my friends moved away, and the rest are moving on and have no room for me.
All in all, everyone thinks that since I'm two months out from being done with chemo, everything's fine and back to normal now. It's really difficult trying to keep up with expectations that are set for healthy people my age. My boyfriend was the only person whom I felt I wasn't disappointing while I was sick. He does know, and we're trying to work it out together. It's so hard to talk about problems, because all we end up doing is apologizing to one another for bringing up an awkward subject. He wants to know what he's done wrong when he hasn't done anything at all, you know? How easily I can get sick depends on my blood levels for that month / week. I do have doctors and nurses who are very understanding on this subject, and it will definitely help to have them go over some things we could do to worry less. That way at least there would be less anxiety. Both my boyfriend and I really want to get tested for STIs, but neither of us have the money or the courage. Neither of us want that showing up on the insurance bill, especially him. He rarely goes to the doctor, and a visit like that would pop up on his parents' radar. [ 04-18-2013, 07:33 PM: Message edited by: AllIsFullOfLove ]
Member # 3
posted 04-19-2013 12:40 PM
We'd be happy to help look for what's available and low-cost in your area for STI testing for each of you through independent clinics or public health services so neither of you had to worry about bills/paperwork going to parents.
In the meantime, safer sex practices really do offer a very high level of protection from infections. If you haven't incorporated those into your sexual life yet, I'd be happy to give you some information on that and talk you through it. I suspect if your doctor truly felt sex was dangerous for you, they'd also have advised you around that, too.
Member # 75452
posted 04-19-2013 01:59 PM
That would be a really huge help, Heather. If we can both know that our information and privacy is safe, we'd happily get tested. (Is it safe to post our city here?)
Before I was diagnosed we practiced safer sex every time - condoms, birth control, gloves, the whole nine yards. During treatment I asked about those things, and my doctors suggested to put certain activities off the table, so we did. I haven't had an update since though, so we're still in the hyper alert mode that's been going for a year. But I'm making a list of questions for my next appointment. Until then, we've just decided to keep it to cuddling and kissing.
Member # 3
posted 04-19-2013 02:04 PM
It's fine to post your city or postal code here.
It does also sound like it'd be good for you to revisit a talk with your doctors about sex, and what, if any, concerns they have now, at this point, about your health and your sexual life.
Member # 75452
posted 04-19-2013 02:43 PM
We would be able to reach clinics in these areas:
Member # 3
posted 04-19-2013 02:46 PM
Okay, let me go see what I can find for you.
Member # 3
posted 04-19-2013 02:50 PM
Your best bet looks like this Planned parenthood branch:
Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains 12543 N. Hwy 83 #214 Parker, CO 80134 Phone: 720-851-6606