Anonymous, October 2018

I wanted to share a success story with you because I don’t want any of you to wait as long as I did to get help. As a result of all my treatments I was put into early menopause, which brought along with it a ton of awful side effects. Hot flashes, night sweats, painful intercourse, one chin hair (lol) – you get the idea and many of you deal with the same things. I saw Dr after Dr but nothing helped with the painful intercourse problem and I finally got to the point where I just gave up. I stopped having sex because it hurt so bad, it was truly awful. I felt bad about this, I felt sad for my husband and I felt sad for me. I really gave up, for years…Many of my doctors were trying to be helpful and a few didn’t give up on me, pushing me to try to find a way though this. Tami Laninga Groothuis contacted me about a year ago and asked if she could nominate me for a free vaginal laser procedure (Diva) that might be helpful. I agreed but honestly I wasn’t very hopeful. About a month later I got a call from Amber who is a survivor and a nurse at the Center for Women’s Sexual Health. She let me know that they would like to provide me with 3 laser treatments to help with my menopausal issues.

I cried. I cried hard during that phone call- because the lack of intimacy in my life was just so sad. I grew up in the 70’s and 80’s in a family that didn’t talk about sex or even how important intimacy was in your life. So, I came with a lot of baggage. In fact, it’s even hard for me to be telling all of you this today. I set up my first appointment with Nisha at the center and for the first time in my life I felt that I could be totally honest about my issues with sex, no sex, etc… in addition to dealing with damage to my vagina from chemo and menopause. This was 9 months ago. Yesterday I graduated from the program (Laser, meds and pelvic floor PT). It’s been a long and hard 9 months of both physical and emotional work on my part but thanks to the women at the Center, I am back to having no pain intercourse! Honestly, I never thought that could happen. The DiVa laser procedure was easy, I started using a suppository called Intrarosa (I’m TN, so no hormone issues for me, however this one is okay for BC survivors to use) and I did pelvic floor PT with Lily. In addition to helping with the vaginal changes from chemo and a lack of use (hahaha), she helped with my chronic back pain and she helped me get over some of my issues surrounding sex. Honestly, these ladies saved my life just as much as my onco team. This is getting long winded but I wanted you to know that if you are suffering from these issues, there is help out there. Thanks Tami Laninga Groothuis for getting the ball rolling, Thanks Amber for creating a way for us to get free treatments!