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Bringing Sexual Health into the Conversation

05 May, 2024

NCC offers multiple opportunities to learn about sexual health and intimacy for cancer patients

When Erin Sullivan-Wagner was in treatment for anal cancer, the topic of the treatment’s impact on her sexual health and intimacy was never brought up by her care team, and no referrals for evaluation were made. She survived her cancer, but her sexual health issues were permanent and she says the sexual and intimate relationship with her husband “was forever changed.”

Sullivan-Wagner set out to provide the support and information to others diagnosed with cancer that she said she would have liked to receive. Through her organization, After Cancer, she advocates for patients, raises awareness, and educates providers in the oncology community how to incorporate discussions on sexual health into the standards of cancer care.

She addresses myriad issues, including low libido, altered body image, fertility, dating, intimacy with an ostomy bag, pelvic floor concerns, LGBTQ+ relationships and more.   

NCC is thrilled to offer three learning opportunities this year with Sullivan-Wagner, engaging healthcare providers across Nevada with information and resources to understand the issues, open up the conversation with patients, and refer them to specialists who can help. Here’s a look at what’s coming up:

CELL Series: Navigating Intimacy After Cancer, June 5 at 12 p.m.

During this lunch and learn session, we’ll review some of the ways cancer diagnosis and treatment can affect a person’s sexual health, when and how to refer patients to specialists to address sexual health and side effects, and how to start a conversation about sexual health in the context of cancer care.

Nevada Cancer Control Summit: The 30-Second Conversation, Aug. 23

RSVP is required to participate in one of two 90-minute workshops, which are limited to 8 participants each. Sullivan-Wagner will outline the key components of a brief conversation providers can have with patients to open the door to a discussion about sexual health concerns. Then, workshop attendees will develop their own 30-second script they can use to talk to patients.

Nevada Cancer Control Summit: Sexual Health and Your Patients, Aug. 24

Saturday of our Summit has sessions geared toward our clinical oncology partners, and Sullivan-Wagner’s presentation here will focus on the more clinical aspects of how cancer treatment can impact sexual health and what they can do to support patients.

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