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Editorial

Couples and Cancer

Anne Katz
ONF 2013, 40(2), 105 DOI: 10.1188/13.ONF.105

During the past decade, as a sexuality counselor at a large regional cancer center, I have heard many emotions expressed during counseling sessions. I have witnessed the vulnerability of men as those whose physical size suggests strength and power crumble in the face of the fallout from cancer. I have seen physically fragile women draw from a well of strength and overcome functional impairment that would bring many of us to our knees. I have observed, with no small degree of amazement, couples young and old overcome significant odds to grow closer and stronger despite the toll that cancer and its treatment take on them. I have learned what intimacy truly means-not as a euphemism for sexual activity, but the heart-to-heart connection between two people who have seen the worst of themselves and yet, in the eyes of the other, only kindness and love reflected back.

References 

Fobair, P., & Spiegel, D. (2009). Concerns about sexuality after breast cancer. <i>Cancer Journal, 15</i>, 19-26.

Hawkins, Y., Ussher, J., Gilbert, E., Perz, J., Sandoval, M., & Sundquist, K. (2009). Changes in sexuality and intimacy after the diagnosis and treatment of cancer: The experience of partners in a sexual relationship with a person with cancer. <i>Cancer Nursing, 32</i>, 271-280.