- 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.