News & Politics

Dealing with Cancer: Discuss Sex With Your Doctor

Useful insights and pieces of advice from those who have gone through cancer.

Photograph by Jeff Elkins

Two years ago, at age 37, former attorney Stef
was known as DC’s Carrie Bradshaw, thanks to her uncensored
City Girl blog. When she was diagnosed with breast cancer—her mother died
of cancer when Woods was 24—she had a double mastectomy as well as
chemotherapy and radiation. She’s now in remission. Woods writes about
cancer and relationships on her blog and is a sexuality, activism, and
media educator at American University.

“I knew I’d do whatever I could to keep my sex life normal. But
everything out there was so negative: ‘You won’t have the energy or
desire, you won’t like how you look, you’ll be in menopause, your partner
might leave you.’ I realized that talking about sex during cancer needs to
be part of the instructions you discuss with your doctor, like diet and
exercise. It needs to be a conversation between partners. It won’t be the
same as before, but it’s a big part of your wellness plan. I don’t give
the men I date an option—I talk about it freely, and they’re surprised I’m
so frank. Both my sexuality and my cancer are a big part of my

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This article appears in the October 2012 issue of The Washingtonian.