Category Archives: Sexual Health

Breast Cancer: A Personal Perspective

Breast Cancer from a Personal Perspective

Breast Cancer Survivor, Family, My Mom
My Mother is a breast cancer survivor. I try not to dwell on that time. It was scary for her, and scary for the rest of the family as well. My Mother is a very modest woman and we don’t talk about a lot of personal things. She was very blessed in the size department and being busty really does define a certain physical appearance and perception you have of yourself. I don’t think I realized it until after her surgery when she opted for a breast reduction as part of the reconstruction. There are things that I learned as the daughter of a breast cancer survivor that I wanted to share. Hopefully this helps someone else weather this time in their lives.

Medical Terminology & Other Doctor Stuff

I am a firm believer in second opinions. I remember asking my mom to get a second opinion before surgery. She opted to go with the opinion of her doctor. As more and more information comes out about breast cancer, genetic markers, and indicators versus actual masses I would recommend this even more. I would go even further to say make sure they are doctors from different hospital organizations.

Breast cancer charities, awareness, october, pink ribbon
There are many opportunities when it comes to breast cancer charities.

In a world where insurance company limitations cause people to think their options are limited because that dictates so much of what care is offered to them by their doctors; this is a great time to invest the extra money in yourself and pay for a doctor visit even if it isn’t covered by your insurance.
We tried to make sure someone was always with my mom when she went to the doctor. Two sets of ears hear better than one. Four sets of ears don’t miss much. It is easy to miss things when new terminology like interductal and insitu are being thrown your way. One of the best things to do is allow yourself a support system. When people offer to help let them. We are so afraid sometimes of judgment that we take these offers lightly. The person diagnosed with cancer feels helpless but so do those around them. So when people offer to help whether it is a ride to the doctor, a moment of prayer or making you dinner let them. Helping each other makes us all feel like less of a victim and can aid in the healing process.
My father was very assertive about taking care of my mom after she came home from the hospital. I think the thought that she might not make it was very scary for him. We stepped back and thought it was great that he cared so much. It was not until later that my mom let me know she felt like we all abandoned her. Her hospital recovery was horrible. She was in a room with someone that had so many visitors that she couldn’t get any rest and no matter how many times we said something the overworked nurses couldn’t seem to do anything about it. We were worried not just about the noise but the exposure to germs. My mother was relieved when they sent her home, but the idea of a visiting nurse and drainage was a little scary for her and my dad.

What the heck does In Situ mean anyway?

In situ means the cancer is not spreading but is in the place where it originated. There was a large concern with my mom with spreading to the lymph nodes. DCIS (ductal carcinoma in situ) is the most common breast cancer diagnosis. While not life threatening there is always the concern about the spread. We are learning new things about cancer all of the time and recent reports are saying that a wait and see approach may be better for some women than the rigorous treatment.

Post Surgery Options

Of course different people face different choices in regards to radiation and chemotherapy. Prior to surgery there are a lot of decisions that women must make about reconstruction of the breast as well as treatment post surgery.

Reconstruction

Reconstruction does not equal restoration. The wonders of plastic surgery can restore some shape to the breast depending on the extent of the cancer. There are implants available with their own set of health risks and the scarring can be extensive. Every woman must decide for herself how she wants to face this part of the disease and treatment. The woman’s nipple is lost as part of the process which I am not sure I still understand at this point if the cancer is being removed from the ducts in the breast. I have asked my mom a couple of times if she would like to see someone again about implants but she said she doesn’t want that. I can’t say I blame her based on the information I have seen about them. I don’t bring it up anymore because I don’t want her to feel self conscious but I do sometimes wonder if perhaps it is a badge of honor for what she went through. I know from things that I have read that many women embrace their scars as a tribute to themselves for surviving the disease. A daily reminder of what they have overcome, I wonder if that is my mom’s reason.

Tattooing

One of the coolest things I learned about during this time was tattooing to restore color to the nipple area for women. Amy Druding in Mays Landing, NJ does this and runs specials for breast cancer survivors during the month of October. Her compassion for women is amazing and hearing her passion to help others was something I will never forget. I first heard about it from my friend Ashley whose mom had a family history of breast cancer and had proactively had her breasts removed. If I remember correctly her mother had hearts tattooed where her nipples had been. There are lots of options but my mother was not interested in this option.

Final Thoughts

In the midst of writing this I came upon a series of videos about the Cancer Industry. Yes, I said industry. If they cured cancer tomorrow what would the economic impact to loss of jobs and revenue be to many companies and individuals. I didn’t watch the series yet because I want to have time to really watch it and I am not good at sitting for that long, but I am planning on watching it soon. If you would like to check it out go here.

Breast cancer charities, survivors, victims, women
Women of all ages and ethnicities are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

If you have a comment, resource or story to share that you think may help someone else please comment below.

Until next time,
xoxo

The Passion Professor

 

The Passion Profesor

Breast Cancer Charities

The Pink Puzzle

Breast cancer charities, survivors, victims, women
Women of all ages and ethnicities are diagnosed with breast cancer each year.

Anyone who knows me knows how much I love pink. If you check out my website there is pink everywhere. So finding pink to wear to raise breast cancer awareness is not even a challenge. While we all strive to support awareness, research and victims of the disease, not all breast cancer charities have the same mission. When I originally had the idea about sharing information about breast cancer charities I had more of an expose agenda in mind. However the more research that more I recognized an opportunity to share some useful information with others to help them make decisions about the best way for them to support the cause.

 

All Breast Cancer Charities Are Not Created Equal

Just as with many nonprofit organization there is public information available about breast cancer charities that tell how much actually goes to what they are supporting and how much of their actual donation dollar makes it to the cause. I originally was going to spell that out for everyone but instead came across a great piece from Money.com . You can check out your own favorite breast cancer charity to see how they measure up. What I learned from my research and what I want to share is a little information around the different ways breast cancer charities use your money.

Where Does Your Donation Go?

There are three basic forms of breast cancer charity donation uses:

  • Research – This includes treatment and prevention
  • Raising Awareness – This one I find to be the most slippery slope and can be a catch all for being pink washed
  • Support – This includes financial support for those going through treatment as well as counseling services for survivors.

When learning about breast cancer charities I found I was drawn most to the support category. Change and impact at the individual and personal level resonates strongly with me.

Breast cancer charities, awareness, october, pink ribbon
There are many opportunities when it comes to breast cancer charities.

So you may wonder where do all the pink ribbon items and walks for the cure fit into this whole matrix of giving. I have many friends who I love dearly who were inspired to walk for either a survivor or victim of breast cancer. If you research further into the charity organizations themselves you will find not a great deal of money goes to finding a cure but the awareness level has risen greatly due to these events. I happily support participants because I recognize it makes them feel empowered. I want to point out when I contribute I am supporting them not necessarily the organizations. The same goes for the pink washed items. Yes they raise awareness, but the tax benefits and recognition for the contribution go to the company promoting the item and that is in the case where they make a contribution at all. Some items that are pink ribbon are just for awareness. If you really want to donate choose a charity and donate directly. This allows you to reap the tax benefit yourself.

My New Favorite Charity

In the course of studying the various breast cancer charity organizations there was one that particularly resonated with me. The Pink Fund offers financial help to those diagnosed to help them get through the treatment period when they may be out of work. I like it because it helps at the individual level and the stress of financial worries while you are fighting for your health can impede healing. They are not yet ranked on Charity Navigator (I suggest you check out all of your giving on this site) but I will check back. I liked their mission.

Whatever your passion is there is a charity that can use your support. Support doesn’t mean just dollars. Your time is one of the most valuable things that you can give.
Feel free to share this message with someone you love!

Until Next Time.
xoxo

The Passion Professor

 

The Passion Professor

Is Feeling Yourself Up Getting You Down? (Women & Breast Self Exam)

Why do women skip their breast self examinations?

Boobies, Titties, Hooters, Knockers – all words used for the breast. In social media news these days we have social battles around norms such as nursing in public and celebrating shirts off day. So obviously we are talking about a revered part of the female anatomy. Early detection is so important that every MD has tips and tricks for getting it done when it comes to self examination posted throughout their offices. So why are women not protecting themselves if early detection is the key. Do any of these sound familiar to you:

breast self exam, breast cancer,
Being in touch with yourself can have life saving implications
  • I forget.
  • I barely get time to wash my hair in the shower.
  • What if my kids/spouse/bf/dog walked in?
  • I am not really sure what I am feeling around for.
  • It feels dirty to me.

 

Why Women Don’t Do Self-Examination

When we look at the reasons why women don’t do a monthly breast self exam for themselves versus the benefit of early detection; the cost benefit is astounding. Come on ladies let’s call these reasons what they really are – excuses. When we look at the drivers of these excuses they come down to early in grained notions about feeling that touching ourselves is dirty, not setting up boundaries about our right to time for self-care and of course these both are linked to the overall reason which is fear. Fear that we are not doing it right; what someone might think; we might have to have an uncomfortable conversation with our spouse, child, doctor; or the very worst fear that you may find something and have to take action for your health.

Reasons to Get Past the Fear

The following statistics are reported on the website breastcancer.org:

prevention, breast self exam
Information about prevention is powerful
  • About 85% of breast cancers occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer. These occur due to genetic mutations that happen as a result of the aging process and life in general, rather than inherited mutations.
  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • 20% of all breast cancers are not found mammographically
  • In 2015, an estimated 231,840 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women in the U.S., along with 60,290 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer

The most effective means of reducing fatalities is early detection. End of story. Since most women only see their OB/GYN once a year and many don’t see their General Practitioner unless they are deathly ill. Self examination is imperative. So in order to be there for your spouse/child/dog and for yourself, if you need to install a new lock on the bathroom door, ask your doctor for a lesson, or just get past the negative feelings you have attached to self-exploration. Whatever is keeping you from this important part of self-care do it for yourself. Because you are worth it.

For more information about breast cancer, self examination and treatment visit www.breastcancer.org.

My special gift to you is a link to a free shower card that you can print and keep in your bathroom.

For more information about sexual health subscribe to my mailing list by using the form to the right. Of course caring is sharing so feel free to share this with someone you love!

xoxo

Patricia Mooneyham The Passion Professor

 

The Passion Professor

Sexual Dysfunction, libido, depression

Hysterectomy |No Need for Silent Suffering

“Oh female problems.”

The statement shuts down questions (especially around men). It is like bringing up PMS or infertility. Female sexuality is mysterious and talking about when things aren’t what they should be is scary.

So knowledge is power and understanding why women must face this surgery and what it means to their ongoing health and wellness can take some of the fear and stigma out of the surgery.

Why?

There are various reasons why a woman may need to consider hysterectomy:

  • Cancer of the:
    • Cervix
    • Fallopian tubes
    • Ovaries

      Female Reproductive System, Hysterectomy
      There are multiple option in regard to what needs to be removed in a hysterectomy it is not an all or nothing in some cases.
    • Endometrium
  • Endometriosis
  • Heavy Menses to the point of anemia
  • Pelvic Inflammatory Disease
  • Prolapse of the Uterus
  • Adenomyosis, or a thickening of the uterus

There are other possible treatments for some of these and hysterectomy should be considered after other options have been considered or attempted. Also, no one except the doctor you are currently seeing is going to be offended by you seeking a second opinion. Your uterus is more important than someone’s ego.

Facts
In the USA 600,000 hysterectomies are performed each year, at a cost of $5 billion per year. It is the second most common major surgery among women of child-bearing age.

Types of Surgery

Just as there are different causes that lead to a hysterectomy there are different types of hysterectomy. This is both in terms of how the operation is performed as well as in what is removed from the patient.

Taken from Medical News Today ( MediLexicon International Limited, 2015), the three types of hysterectomy are:

A subtotal hysterectomy – only the body of the uterus is surgically removed. The cervix stays.
A total hysterectomy – the body of the uterus and the cervix are both surgically removed.
A total hysterectomy with bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy – the uterus, fallopian tubes, cervix, and ovaries are all surgically removed. This is also known as radical hysterectomy.

Of course technology has made advances and there are different options as far as how the surgery is conducted. Whether it is laparoscopic, robotic or an incision through the vagina, those are less intrusive than traditional abdominal surgery. However, the traditional method may be necessary if other exploration is necessary due to tumors or due to the physical condition of the woman. Though sometimes the method selected is due to the comfort of the surgeon so be sure to ask.

Post Surgery Implications

Any time you are facing removal of such a critical part of the body there are chemical and hormonal implications. These can be scary.  The emotional impact and the connection to one’s sexuality can be scary as well.The surgery can be especially devastating to women of child bearing age who wanted children or even more children. It can be confusing for men to understand how this can impact a couples intimacy post operation recovery.

One of the things many women may have a hard time with post hysterectomy is discussing issues in regards to their sex life. Things such as the need for lubrication, vaginal dryness or even continued pain post operation. Once again, unfortunately, too many women suffer in silence.

Want to find our more information about sexual health and welnnes topics like these?

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Until Next Time

xoxoxo

The Passion Professor

 

 

Sexual Dysfunction – Basic Information Every Woman Should Know

Sexual Dysfunction Cause and Effect

Sexual Dysfunction can manifest itself in many different ways. The root causes can be physical, emotional or in many cases a combination of both. What resources are available to women to reclaim their sexuality?

Some of the leading causes of sexual dysfunction are:

  • Prescription Medications

    Sexual Dysfunction, libido, depression
    Many women suffer from Sexual Dysfunction in silence
  • Poor Diet
  • Stress
  • Abuse
  • Disease

How Sexual Dysfunction is Different for Women

Sexual dysfunction can manifest itself as a lack of interest in sexual activity or not being able to physical engage in sex. While this may be more obvious in men when they suffer from erectile dysfunction. It is not always so obvious in a woman. As a result  a woman’s sexual dysfunction can go unnoticed by her partner and untreated by her health care provider. Let’s face it ladies when our RN, GP or Gyno asks us if we are having any “problems” most of us are not thinking about our lack of libido.

The  fact that we may not desire sex anymore or that we are not achieving orgasm has not been considered something we should make a priority for most women. Women have been conditioned to minimize their sexual needs.

Everyday more and more medical evidence is being discovered on the significance and importance of a healthy sex life to our overall health.
According to a 2010 report the leading types of sexual dysfunction among women are:

  1. Lack of desire (47 percent)
  2. Orgasm problems (45 percent)
  3. Arousal issues (40 percent)
  4. Lack of satisfaction (39 percent)
  5. Lack of lubrication (37 percent)
  6. Pain (36 percent)

 

Unfortunately, it is not so obvious when a woman experiences dysfunction (unlike a man). The result is many women suffer in silence. They have no idea what denying their sexual needs does to their body overall or the health benefits of an orgasm. This is mainly because even among women talking about sex can cause discomfort.

Why Are Women So Uncomfortable with Their Sexuality?

Just this morning, I saw it before my own eyes. I was at a ladies networking breakfast and was asked to introduce myself to the group since it was my first time attending. I proceeded to talk about what I do. While several women quickly asked for my card one woman quickly stood up and excused herself. I don’t think she even finished her breakfast. while I seek to educate and inform the last thing I would ever want is to make a woman uncomfortable.

However, just the mention of sex is uncomfortable for some women and that is not good for their health or their relationships. When a woman feels she can’t talk about sex, it could be keeping her from communicating her needs. This applies  not only to her partner but also to her medical providers. Since female sex organs are neatly tucked away if a woman is having issues, it may not be evident in a standard exam.

Ready for the Good News?

Most forms of sexual dysfunction are completely treatable. The fist step is recognizing the signs. The next step is identifying the cause. There a multitude of complementary therapies and relationship enhancements that can put the sparkle back in the bedroom. This is where understanding the strong connection between the mind and the body can be so important.

If you are struggling with sexual dysfunction contact me  at:

thepassionprofessor @ patriciamooneyham.com

for your  complimentary discovery session and get yourself on the road to recovery.