Sex After Cancer: Let Patients Know They Are Not Alone

Mike Hennessy Sr

Oncology Nursing News, March 2018, Volume 12, Issue 2

This letter from the Chairman and CEO of Oncology Nursing News® gives an overview of the contents of the March 2018 print issue of the magazine.

For many patients, one of the most challenging aspects of cancer is the adverse effects that follow disease treatment. They come in dif­ferent forms, such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, hair loss, anemia, and chemo brain. Another unfortunate, and often underreported, adverse effect involves sexual health and fertility.

Although sexual and fertility concerns during and after cancer affect men and women differently, both genders have the same desire for intimacy.

In this issue’s cover story, Jeffrey Albaugh, PhD, APRN, CUCNS, direc­tor of sexual health at NorthShore University HealthSystem in Evanston, Illinois, walks through the specific issues related to sex that men and women who are cancer survivors face, offering many ways in which oncology nurses can help patients address their concerns.

Albaugh’s most crucial piece of advice is to have conversations with patients to let them know they are not alone. A study, discussed by Albaugh in the cover story, found that 62% of internists working with patients with cancer never or rarely address sexual issues. Albaugh understands that sexuality is crucial to being human. Through his nursing experience, he found that empowering patients with information about sexual dysfunction and fertility can lead to bet­ter decision making.

This issue of Oncology Nursing News® also discusses improving the accuracy of patient identification. Whether it be human or computer error, these mistakes are still happening in cancer care centers across the country despite efforts by the Joint Commission, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, and the Oncology Nursing Society. Our editor in chief dissects a lawsuit that was a result of a wrong-patient error that led to the patient receiving che­motherapy intended for someone else. In these pages, we examine how this could have been avoided and discuss further actions to reduce patient identi­fication mistakes.

Retirement is often dreamed about, but rarely feels like it’s within reach. A new book, Redefining Retirement For Nurses: Finding Meaning After Retirement, tells the stories of 26 nurses and their journeys to the next phases of life. Oncology Nursing News® speaks with one of the authors, who after 45 years of nursing, sold her home and pur­chased an RV to travel the country. Much like the nurses whose stories she shares, Joanne Evans found it most challenging to not overcommit herself, whether it be for speaking engagements or volunteer work, again in the chapter she likes to call “rewiring” rather than “retiring.”

Also in this issue, a new drug to help reduce oral mucositis in patients with head and neck cancer, promoting BRCA awareness, and the impact that nurse case managers have on clinical outcomes.

We hope you find these articles in-formative, and as always, thank you for reading.

Mike Hennessy, Sr

Chairman and CEO