I wrote Intimacy After Breast Cancer because this is a topic of the most concern and anxiety for women who have completed their breast cancer treatments, and yet, the one topic their doctors will not address. As a survivor myself, I wanted to share all that I learned so all women could live their new lives to the fullest and return to a life of love, joy and hope.
I was diagnosed with triple negative ductal breast cancer in September of 2001. At that time there was no information whatsoever about estrogen and progesterone receptor negative breast cancer other than the standard line that appeared in every breast cancer book and online resource that read: “Women without estrogen and progesterone receptors have a poor prognosis and die sooner.” This was unacceptable to me, a young woman who was determined to fight my disease with only one goal in mind: beating it.
I began my own research. I reached out to other breast cancer patients and started to mentor women online while I was still in treatment. This began to grow and the outreach spread across many breast cancer websites.
My mission was to not only empower women to be their own best advocates but to also never accept grim prognoses and roll over to a fate dictated by doctors working with twenty year old stats. I wanted to offer hope.
As a result, the women who had been coached by the person known on the web as “No Surrender,” began to coach other women who were newly diagnosed with this philosophy and they too became empowered and learned how to fight their disease, their doctors and their insurance companies. I started a not for profit organization called the No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation (nosurrenderbreastcancerhelp.com.) It has a website and a very active support forum with members from across America to the UK, Israel, New Zealand and Japan.
I was diagnosed with a new primary breast cancer in February of 2007 in the opposite breast. This time, it was a completely different breast cancer from the first. It was lobular and also estrogen and progesterone positive. I underwent chemotherapy and surgery once again, and continued to counsel women. The new cancer served to strengthen my mission to empower women through their cancer battles. After having written extensively about breast cancer in other outlets as well as appearing as a motivational speaker at hospitals, medical organizations and corporate events, this book, Intimacy After Breast Cancer, has allowed me to open up a dialog that has not been spoken about before.
Women who have experienced changes in their body, both physically and psychologically, often have sexual issues that need to be overcome. But where do they start? That is why I wrote the book. As someone who has been there, I am able to relate to the anxiety and apprehension that comes after the treatments are over. Intimacy After Breast Cancer takes you forward to help you live a full life, a life you fought so hard for.
Gina Maisano, two-time breast cancer survivor, is the founder of the No Surrender Breast Cancer Foundation, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to improving the lives of women with breast cancer (www.nosurrenderbreastcancerhelp.org). She is also a writer, whose articles on breast cancer issues have appeared in numerous magazines and journals. She makes several guest appearances on radio and television and gives lectures on breast cancer survival, women’s lifestyle issues including sexuality, relationships, nutrition, fitness and skin care. Currently, she resides on Long Island, New York.