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Do oncology care providers talk to women about sexuality?

A recent study published in the journal Supportive Care in Cancer suggest that yes, they do – so things are improving from just a few years ago when most weren’t. But let me tell you more.. In this study, oncologists and nurses working with women with gynecologic cancer were asked whether they talked to their patients about sexuality. About half of these patients experience sexual problems after treatment so this is an important issue. The study found that the majority of the health care providers talked to their patients about sexuality ONCE and half of the health care providers reported that they offer suggestions to their patients about resolving any problems they may be having. But patients were RARELY referred to a sexual health specialist. These are concerning results, despite an improvement communication. When did these conversations occur? What about the timing? Conversations about sexuality need to happen at EVERY visit as things change for our patients – and as cancer survivors move past active treatment they often resume sexual activity so not asking repeatedly means missing opportunities to help. And referrals to a qualified sexuality counselor or therapist are vital – not only because ‘time’ is often cited by health care providers as a barrier to having a conversation about sexuality – but also because these professionals are experts in sexuality, something that oncologists and oncology nurses are not. Supportive Care in Cancer March 2015, Volume 23, Issue 3, pp 831-839 Psychosexual support for gynecological cancer survivors: professionals’ current practices and need for assistance Willemijn M. Vermeer, Rinske M. Bakker, Anne M. Stiggelbout, Carien L. Creutzberg, Gemma G.... read more

More success!

I received official word late yesterday that my book for and about young adults with cancer has won a prestigious award from the American Journal of Nursing. The award is for the Consumer Health book of the year (2014) and I could not be more proud. This is an award judged by my peers and from a highly respected leader in the field of nursing journals. Writing the book was both a challenge and a joy – a challenge in that it is not easy to think about the impact of a cancer diagnosis in young people who are on the cusp of adulthood in some cases and just too young in all cases. It was challenging in that I interviewed 20 young adults to inform the process and their stories were painful to hear – but also inspiring. One of the young people died before the book was published and his story was a poignant one because he had cancer as a teenager and had not yet achieved many of his hopes and dreams. But the book was also a joyous process as so many of those interviewed had lessons for me personally and for those who read this book. Lessons about facing the diagnosis, getting through treatment, and coming out the other side with wisdom beyond their years. A young woman with ovarian cancer worked with me on translating the interviews into the stories of their lives. Alicia Merchant had a gift for writing – her forward to the book is touching – and she died just a few months ago, never knowing of the awards that... read more

Soon to be available in paperback

While searching Amazon for a listing of my books recently it came to my attention that my book for the partners of men with prostate cancer will soon be available in paperback. It’s available on pre-order for now. This is a good thing – mostly because it means that it will be cheaper than the hardcover. But I also prefer paperbacks (easier to carry and read) and I hope that this will mean that the book gets into the hands of even more readers. This book has received the Consumer Book Award from SSTAR (the Society for Sex Therapy and Research) and I will be in Boston in the early spring to receive the award. Here’s a link to the book on Amazon... read more

Publishing awards for some of my books

So proud that two of my books have received awards this year- Prostate Cancer and the Man You Love (Rowman and Littlefield) will receive the SSTAR Consumer Book award in Boston in early 2015 This Should Not Be Happening: Young Adults with Cancer (Hygeia Media) received an APEX Excellence in Publishing award as well as a Silver award in the Association TRENDS All-Media... read more

The waiting….

My book for and about young adults with cancer is due out any day now… I just don’t know which day! It’s both frustrating and exciting – I really would like to know when to expect the hard copy and yet once I have it in my hands, the anticipation will be over. Life’s like that…. I have seen the galleys and I of course had significant input into the cover (that I love and can’t wait to post but I have had some technical challenges with that).  I am really proud of it and hope that it does well. The publisher is excited about it too and they think that it has ‘cross over’ appeal – it is being advertised on the Publisher’s Weekly website for the month of December and presumably that will increase sales. I presented a scholarly synopsis of the work at a conference in October and it was well received by the audience, predominately nurses which leads me to… book #10 which is a text book on how to provide psychosocial care to young adults with cancer. I am in the data gathering phase of that – killing forests as I collect supporting papers – and filing them neatly in anticipation of the writing that was supposed to start this week…. just another form of... read more

Latest book done

I handed my latest book in on its due date – May 31, 2013. It was a really interesting book to write and has inspired me to be more involved clinically with fertility preservation counselling at work. But that’s another story. For now, I wait anxiously to hear that the publisher likes the new book. It has chapters on treatment decision making, taking part in clinical trials, how to deal with family and friends, going back to work or school after treatment, keeping healthy, the importance of surveillance for late effects of treatment, fertility preservation, contraception, and of course dating and sexuality. I interviewed young adults with cancer as part of the research for the book and that was probably my favorite part. Hearing their stories was both saddening and frustrating (many had long delays before being diagnosed because they were ‘too young’ to have cancer) but ultimately, they are here to tell their stories and that is what is really important. I am taking the summer ‘off’ – giving myself a break before writing the proposal for my 10th book (yikes – how did that happen?) – but I will be writing some papers about young adults… I’ve done the reading and the review of the literature so it just makes sense. Of course I might also just sit around and read (for... read more