April 26, 2018

CPIC Report

Last weekend I attended the CPIC (Cancer Prevention Institute of California) annual breast cancer conference. Held at the Golden Gate Club in the Presidio, the venue itself was worth it! Spectacular views of the San Francisco Bay out a wall of windows was a gorgeous view as I listened to the latest in research and environmental updates related to breast cancer. There were 3 presentations that were the highlights of the conference for me:

1. Michael Lerner, founder of Commonweal, talked about poetry and the soul, and how there’s an opportunity to live your precious life once your heart has been broken open by cancer. It’s a portal into the deepest realms of what really matters, a time to explore what all the great traditions teach about suffering ~ that the purpose of suffering is to break us open to the deepest possibilities of love. He asked some profound questions including:

    • How do you use being broken open to journey further into what matters now?
    • What skillful changes will you make to move toward what matters?
    • What areas of healing do you need?In the end, the powerful focused intention to live as well as I can for as long as I can, is where true healing and true living coincide.
      • Healing
      • Medical therapies
      • Complementary therapies
      • Pain and suffering
      • Death and dying

2. Lynn Westphal, MD, talked about fertility and family planning and the current options for women facing cancer treatments that will impact fertility. She is a pioneer in freezing, eggs, embryos and ovarian tissue. The good news is that there are more options than before, and more help available to women and couples who have not yet had their families and want to retain options. She is part of a Symposium at Stanford in May, and I hope to attend.

3. Jeanne Alexander, MD, talked about intimacy and sexuality. She is a wonderful woman, a psychiatrist who talked about the dynamic interaction between the psyche, the environment and biology as the basis for libido. Regarding sexual function, there is an obvious impact on libido and sexual activity when health declines, as it often does during cancer treatments. For women it’s complex because there’s no evolutionary advantage for women to have sex, especially when we’re tired, ill, stressed or depressed, even though we feel better when we do. If we don’t want to, it’s a bigger hurdle to overcome.

Her talk was informative and the only real option she sees is hormonal help. And that’s not an option for many women, so it’s a bit of a Catch-22. I talked with her about some of my work and discoveries of what works, and she was delighted to know this. She thinks we can do some interesting things together, because I pick up where she leaves off.

Attending this conference and the C4YW conference the week before, I was around about 1000 women with breast cancer. I talked with many of them and there’s a lot of sadness, grief, confusion and resignation about their intimate and sexual lives. It’s a HUGE opportunity to help, give hope and inspiration and plenty of cool tips and tools to remedy the situation. More than ever, it’s time Miss Kitty and me to do more teaching.

If you know an organization where we can speak, or you can connect us with someone who does, shoot us an email to info@sexyaftercancer.com. We want to take this show on the road!

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