Unspoken Issues in Chronic Illness

By Nina Lei

I recently read a great article about cancer and sex (you can find it here: nyti.ms/ZcyG3M), where the author talked about the lack of information health care providers give to cancer patients (and likely their partners as well) about sex.  Both having and treating a chronic illness such as cancer can cause a variety of side effects, both physical and emotional, that affect one’s sex life.  Sex is an integral part of life – to ignore or neglect discussion of the issue is unfair to the people going through the illnesses as well as their partners. 

In the article, the author, Suleika Jaouad, mentioned a “girls’ night” that she has every few weeks where her friends who are also in cancer treatment can talk to and support one another.  She says that even in these groups, the topic of sex “doesn’t come up as often as you might think” for a group of young women.  However, these women do provide emotional support for one another (though unfortunately can’t give each other the medical information that they need and should receive from their health care providers). 

But not everyone has a group that they can receive support and information from.  There are many other unspoken issues besides sex, and many other chronic illnesses besides cancer, that affect those with chronic illness and the people around them.  Living with a chronic illness, being a caregiver or loved one of someone with it, losing someone to a chronic illness, or having some other relation to it is a life-altering experience.  And it is one that people do not and should not have to go through alone. 

On Tuesday, February 26th, at the offices of Dr. Michael DeMarco, we will be having a free workshop where we will bring together those who have encountered chronic or life-threatening illness in some form or another.  This group will be a safe space for every individual to express their thoughts and emotions, no matter what they are.  We hope to create a community of people who share a common experience, and learn from and connect with one another to help find solace.  You can find more information about the workshop here: http://www.meetup.com/MyTherapist-New-York/events/103844942/ Even if you are unable to attend on February 26th, if you are interested in the group, please email me at nina@mytherapist.info.

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