New relationships and sex guide for young cancer patients

CLIC Sargent has teamed up with agony uncle Matt Whyman, young patients and survivors, and a team of cancer experts to develop a new free online guide to help young people aged 16+ navigate relationship and sex issues as they go through and beyond cancer treatment.

New relationships and sex guide for young cancer patients

Headlines

  • CLIC Sargent launches new online guide to address key issues faced by young cancer patients 
  • Charity urges health and care professionals to refer young patients to the guide 
  • CLIC Sargent research finds that young cancer patients more than twice as likely to have questions about relationships and sex after they are diagnosed with cancer 

A mixture of video and written content developed with Whyman and cancer professionals, including consultant oncologist Dr Dan Yeomanson, and CLIC Sargent’s specialist nursing and social care team tackles a range of topics including relationships, body image, sex, safer sex, and communicating with professionals and loved ones.

The charity is urging health and care professionals working with young people with cancer to refer patients to the resource and to use it as a tool to instigate discussions about issues that their patients might feel uncomfortable talking about. 

The guide was developed in response to the results of a CLIC Sargent online survey of 125 young people aged 16-24, who have been diagnosed with cancer about the impact of the illness on their personal and sexual relationships.  

The poll found that young people are more than twice as likely to have questions about relationships and sex after they are diagnosed with cancer. 

The results also suggest that many questions about the impact of cancer on relationships and sex are going unanswered, with young people finding it over twice as difficult to find answers to questions after a diagnosis, compared to finding answers to queries they had when they were well. 

The CLIC Sargent survey asked young people how easy they would find it to talk to a nurse or doctor about sex - 63% of those who responded to the question stated that they would find it difficult. 

It also asked what relationship and sex issues young people were most concerned about. Those who responded to the question indicated the following top concerns: 

  • Whether a partner would still find them attractive (65%)
  • Worries around starting a new relationship (50%) 
  • Not feeling like sex (44%)
  • Feeling embarrassed to talk to their doctor about sex (44%)
  • Worries about partner being afraid to have sex (43%)
  • Feeling unsure about whether they can have sex while on treatment (41%) 

Cancer survivor Sam Lympany has been filmed with her boyfriend James Tier for the guide talking about their relationship. She says:  

“Cancer doesn’t have to stop you enjoying life. But for a while it made me feel like I wasn’t myself. Like a shell of myself. I’d written off dating completely – I felt like - who the hell would want to date me? But I met James, and he dealt with my cancer the way I did, with humour.   

“He fancied me even when I didn’t have hair. He saw me for who I am. I hope our story helps other young people out there.”

Consultant Oncologist Dr Dan Yeomanson, who advised CLIC Sargent said: “This new guide is a valuable tool for any health or care professional working with young people with cancer who want to start an open and frank dialogue about the potential impact of cancer and its treatment on their sex lives, relationships and emotional health.”  

Agony Uncle Matt Whyman, who advised on the CLIC Sargent guide said:  “I passionately believe that all young people deserve the right to make informed decisions about sex and relationships that puts their welfare first. This new guide tackles the key issues identified by CLIC Sargent and the young people it supports head on.  

“Importantly it encourages them to talk to the health and care professionals or others about their concerns, without feeling awkward or afraid of feeling judged, and provides a starting point to work out what’s best for them on a host of related issues.”  

The CLIC Sargent relationships and sex resource is stage one in a project that is also developing advice and guidance on cancer treatment and fertility, which will be available spring 2016.   

ENDS 

For more information, interviews, images, video content, or additional statistics and information about young people and cancer please contact Claire Monger on 020 8752 2938 or email claire.monger@clicsargent.org.uk  

About CLIC Sargent’s online survey and its findings 

- An online survey was carried out by CLIC Sargent which contained a mixture of multiple choice and open-ended questions, thus generating both quantitative and qualitative data. The survey remained online for one month, from August to September 2014. 

- The survey was promoted by staff on CLIC Sargent’s Youth Network, through its corporate social media channels (Facebook and Twitter), via the Participation Facebook page (a closed group for young people aged 16 and over affected by cancer) and through CLIC Sargent’s research database. 125 young people responded to the survey. 

- Not all questions on the survey needed to be completed by the respondent.  Please note that percentages quoted in this release relate to the number of people who responded to individual survey questions.  For a full copy of the research findings contact claire.monger@clicsargent.org.uk  

- Participation was confidential and anonymous, although respondents were invited to share their contact details if they were interested in participating in further research, and these details were not included in the analysis

About CLIC Sargent

CLIC Sargent is the UK’s leading cancer charity for children and young people aged 0-24, and their families. We provide clinical, practical and emotional support to help them cope with cancer and get the most out of life. 

CLIC Sargent’s young people’s social workers and community workers work with young people aged 16-24, and their families. They provide emotional, financial and practical support following a cancer diagnosis, helping them to continue with everyday life as much as treatment and recovery allows. This includes helping young people manage the impact of cancer on their personal and sexual relationships, through face-to-face support and help to access specialist information and advice.   

For more information visit www.clicsargent.org.uk

Note to sub editors

Please note that the name ‘CLIC Sargent’ should not be abbreviated to CLIC, and that the word ‘CLIC’ should always appear in capitals, as above.   

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