Dr. Katz shares if women with cancer often feel they have been violated.
I think women feel violated with any kind of treatment. So I certainly hear the story from women with breast cancer where their breasts, right, which are normally quite private, are constantly exposed to kind, professional healthcare providers, but it’s still exposure. Most of us are not used to all kinds of people coming up and looking and touching and, you know, asking you to stand this way and stand that way, and certainly this happens with cancer in the genital area.
So, certainly anal cancer where a radiation has to go to that area and the woman is put in a lithotomy position where she really is exposed. You know, I think that for women, our sexual organs, for the most part, are hidden, and that exposure, even though you know it’s to help you get over this cancer, really is often experienced as a violation, and so, what women do is they disassociate, right?
It’s almost as if they take their head and put it on the side so that they are not part of their body that is being acted upon. The problem is that to be sexually healthy and to be pleasured sexually, your head needs to be very, very firmly on your shoulders. You need to be connected to your body, so that disconnect will often persist for a long time after treatment is over.
About Dr. Katz, R.N., Ph.D.:
My professional life is focused on providing information, education and counseling to people with cancer and their partners about sexual changes that can occur during and after treatment. But there is another important aspect to this work; I want every cancer patient to be able to have a discussion about sexuality with their health care providers.