A DYNAMIC North Wales woman is helping people to talk about sex…and cancer

Cancer is leaving thousands of people across Wales lacking in self-confidence, feeling undesirable and worrying about the repercussions on their sex lives or relationships

New research suggests that thousands of people with cancer in Wales could be ‘suffering in silence’ with major concerns around sex and intimacy

With this in mind, Macmillan has teamed up with the UK’s leading sexual wellness brand, Lovehoney – in a first of its kind partnership for both organisations – to encourage more people to have open conversations around sex and cancer and access vital support

46-year-old Ali Alcock, from Corwen, was diagnosed with cervical cancer in April 2015 when she was in her late 30s.


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She is now in remission, but not being able to have open conversations about sex and relationships after her diagnosis had a huge impact on her wellbeing.

Ali said: “It all started at the point of diagnosis for me. When discussing treatment options, the consultant wrongly assumed that a woman of my age – 37 at the time – who was single and had a son would be ok with having a hysterectomy. He couldn’t have been more wrong. It was my wonderful Macmillan Nurse, Jane, who supported me to come to terms with what was ahead for me.

“But after my hysterectomy, I felt less of a woman somehow. My confidence regarding relationships was rock bottom and I had so many questions about sex but felt like I had no one to ask. It’s just not a topic people discuss. I felt very anxious.

“When I met someone new, I finally took the plunge to speak up about how I was feeling, and it changed everything. We need to be more open about this important topic and the very real impact cancer can have on people’s sex lives. It is not something to hide away from.”

Ali has raised thousands of pounds for Macmillan.

New figures released today by Macmillan Cancer Support found that one in six (17 per cent) of people with cancer in Wales – equivalent to around 29,000 people – have serious concerns about sex, loss of libido or fertility as a result of their diagnosis or treatment[i].

Among all people with cancer in Wales, one in five are struggling with the physical effects of treatment on their ability to be intimate (19 per cent) and one in ten (10 per cent) are concerned about their appearance or desirability[ii]. For some people with cancer, it's concerns around feeling pressure to have sex or be intimate when they don’t want to that is causing stress.

However, across the UK, only two in five (39 per cent) of those who want help with serious concerns around sex or fertility have had any support, potentially leaving thousands of people with cancer in Wales trying to manage these issues themselves[iii].

The leading cancer charity is concerned about the potential impact this is having on people’s wellbeing. To break this cultural taboo and encourage more people to have open conversations around sex and cancer, Macmillan has launched a new partnership with the UK’s leading sexual wellness brand, Lovehoney.

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The partnership – a first of its kind for both organisations – will shine a light on the impact cancer can have on people’s sexual wellbeing, and raise awareness of the support available, by sharing unique stories from people affected by cancer across the UK as part of a new YouTube series.

As part of the partnership, Macmillan has also launched a new sex and cancer hub on its website in the hope of encouraging more people living with cancer to talk about sex and seek the support they need.

Richard Pugh, Head of Partnerships at Macmillan Cancer Support said: “Cancer can impact a person’s life in many ways; their relationships, their bodies, how they are feeling and more. It can touch every part of what makes someone who they are. And we know that for many, sex and intimacy following a diagnosis is a huge concern and thousands of people with cancer in Wales are suffering in silence, causing a huge amount of stress and anxiety.

“We need to start talking more about sex and the very real impact cancer can have on people’s sexual wellbeing and relationships. We know that many people find it hard to raise these issues with their partner or people close to them and that’s where we can come in. No question or conversation is too big, too small or too personal on our confidential support line or our online community. Nobody should face the impact of a cancer diagnosis alone; we are here every step of the way.”