Sex and cancer might not be the most obvious bedfellows, but two survivors of the disease hope to tackle the twin taboos with the launch of a pioneering erotic 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 writes and performs about his own life-altering experience with testicular cancer, while Joon-Lynn Goh underwent treatment for breast cancer in 2018, and works in the fields of 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. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy can cause exhaustion, weight loss, weight gain, loss of interest in sex, and heightened infection risks. People with cancer are navigating lots of emotions, traumas and priorities, all of which might make sex less desirable or feasible.”
With that in mind, the pair joined forces with the Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium to curate a shop catering to the specific sexual challenges of cancer. They worked with a steering group of patient advocates, specialist medics, psychosexual therapists, pleasure activists and sex-toy experts.
They got down to business after 18 months of entrepreneurial foreplay, spent gathering questions about sex from people who currently have, or who have survived, cancer. Questions ranged from how to communicate with partners, to how to feel confident in a changed body, and to what to write on a Tinder profile.
“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.”
Besides sex toys and lubes, the site contains an advice section, plus artworks, performances, videos and essays.
Main image: Womanizer Toys