Tricia Jensen


I have hesitated for a long time to write about sex and intimacy during and after cancer treatment. I have wondered if anyone will be able to relate to me. I have questioned whether or not I will have the right answers. I wondered if my story was too boring. You see, I am single. My fiancé and I broke up just a few months before my diagnosis. It has been years… plural… since I last had sex. What can I contribute to this conversation?

Well, celibacy has not been by choice. There is so much anxiety for me surrounding sex and intimacy, that I am almost scared to engage. And because I am scared to engage, time passes, and I get anxious about becoming intimate. See the issue here?

I know for a FACT that I am not alone. In fact, I have spoken to some MARRIED women that have this same type of anxiety. We have all read the articles. We may have brought it up to doctors. And some have even started some therapies to try and fix the lack of a sex life.

For me, sex is low on my list of concerns. As I said before, I am single. My focus has been on this diagnosis, maintaining good health and mind, and my kids. Ahhhhh my kids. At this point, I feel like my life is so full of creating the things I want to be remembered for, that my love life has become nonexistent. Oddly, I am happy this way… for now. I don’t feel like there is something that I am “missing.” I do not have the energy or desire to seek out new relationships and all the things that come with that, good and bad.

I do not necessarily want it to be this way forever, and if Mr. Right fell in my lap I would not turn him away! But it isn’t something I am searching out.

Storytime! I recently met this guy. He is a mutual friend of my girlfriend and her friend. We have hung out in group settings three times, and we have even tried to set up a date during this pandemic, although it has fallen through. We have exchanged numbers, but neither of us has really put forth the effort to make anything happen. However, after the first night hanging out, those thoughts and feelings popped up into my head. I am not interested in a relationship, but random sex may be fun! But then what if it hurts? And then I have to stop him. And then he gets mad. And then I have to explain the diagnosis and why I am stopping. And then I have ruined the mood.

So maybe I should talk to him about the diagnosis BEFORE it gets to sex. But then, is it pity sex? And after how many encounters do I bring it up? Can I warn him about my yet-to-exist sexual issues that may or may not surface in the heat of passion? What if I tell him and he becomes uninterested? Then I just wasted a whole bunch of emotional energy telling that story for nothing! UGH.

So, here I sit. At my desk. With my laptop and my Dr. Pepper. The kids are arguing over video games, the dog peed on my bathroom rug, there is a frozen pizza in the oven at 2 in the afternoon (because I forgot to cook), and the hot water heater just went out, so I am on hold praying that the warrantee is still good. The sex can, and will have to, wait.

Oh, and that guy? He was married.