Although they might not seem like the most obvious of companions, two cancer survivors hope to overcome the taboos of sexuality and cancer by launching a pioneering erotica store.
The UK’s first online sex shop for people living with and beyond cancer – sexwithcancer.com – has been launched by two friends and artists.
Brian Lobel performs and writes about his life-altering experience in testicular cancer. Joon-Lynn Goh was treated for breast cancer in 2018. She now works in the fields culture, community economies, and refugee settlement.
“Cancer, and the treatments for cancer, often have serious effects on a person’s sex life in direct and indirect ways,” Lobel said. “Surgeries can result in body parts being removed, or scars that can take time to get used to. Radiation therapy and chemotherapy can cause exhaustion, weight loss, weight gain and loss of interest in sex. There are also increased infection risks. People with cancer are navigating lots of emotions, traumas and priorities, all of which might make sex less desirable or feasible.”
With this in mind, they joined forces with Sh! Women’s Erotic EmporiumTo create a shop that caters to the sexual needs of cancer patients. They worked closely with a steering committee of patient advocates, psychosexual therapists and pleasure activists, as well as specialist medics and psychosexual therapists.
After 18 months of entrepreneurial foreplay they got down to business. They collected questions about sex from survivors and patients of cancer. The questions covered everything from how to communicate to partners to how to feel confident with a changed body to how to write on Tinder profiles.
“The dominant national cancer dialogue promotes ‘getting back to normal’, instead of ‘loving a body’s new normal’, and there are also barriers to the promotion of sex toys, which are not medically tested, so cannot be formally recommended by doctors,” explained Goh. “All this leads to overly medicalised information, scared patients, nervous doctors, and lots of missed opportunities for good sex and meaningful intimacy.”
Apart from sex toys and oils, the site also has an advice section and artworks, videos, essays, and performances.
Main image: Womanizer Toys