Two pioneering artists and former cancer patients have formed a partnership with our friends at Sh!Women’s’ Erotic Emporium to launch the UK’s first online sex shop, designed by and for people living with and beyond cancer.
The selection of products and sexual aids have been specifically curated to be an answer to the specific sexual challenges relating to cancer and all are available from the online shop sexwithcancer.com as of today (Thursday 7th October).
Sex with Cancer is more than just an online shop, it is an artwork and a public campaign that explores how people living with and beyond cancer can take agency over their own health and wellbeing. It offers practical solutions, peer-led advice and a specially curated selection of products responding to the top 25 questions about sex, pleasure and intimacy asked by people with experience of cancer.
Sex with Cancer has been created by artists, friends and former cancer patients Brian Lobel and Joon-Lynn Goh in collaboration with a Steering Group of patient advocates, specialist doctors and nurses, psychosexual therapists, pleasure activists and sex toy experts.
Over the last 18 months, the team collected over 200 questions about sex that people living with and beyond cancer most wanted to ask. The top 25 questions were then put to the Sex with Cancer Steering Group for responses from a range of expert perspectives. Questions range from how to communicate with a partner, and how to building back confidence with a changed body, to what to write on your Tinder profile. And it is these questions that guided the choice of products and aids, as well as the advice element of the website.
Why is this needed?
Cancer, and the treatments for cancer, often have serious effects on a person’s sex life in direct and indirect ways. 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, erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, 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.
Sex with Cancer has been created in response to the difficulties many people encounter when opening up dialogue about these issues with their medical teams. Many people feel uncomfortable talking about sex, while many medical professionals lack the confidence and training to talk about sexual pleasure, intimacy and relationships.
Then, there’s a dominant national cancer dialogue promoting ‘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 recommend by doctors. All this leads to overly-medicalised information, scared patients, nervous doctors, and lots of missed opportunities for good sex and meaningful intimacy.
New artworks to extend the conversation.
Sex with Cancer also features brand new commissioned artworks that aim to open up the conversation around illness, intimacy and agency. The website features an online performance, a visual artwork, a documentary film, a zine and an essay:
- The Sex with Cancer Conversation Competency Certification Course is a playful online performance created by Brian Lobel inspired by health and safety training videos, which aims to help you get better at having difficult conversations. Click here to test and improve your skills
- Unexpired Pleasures is a new documentary film which asks the question: what is our relationship with sex and pleasure as we confront cancer? Created by Lehni Lamide Davies and Shona Hamilton, it features six women who share their experiences.
- Swinging in the Wind is a new visual artwork by Christopher Samuel inspired by frank conversations with men. Chis uses his signature style of redaction to share profound and all-too- often hidden experiences of male cancers.
- The Candid Cancer Collective is a new zine created by three young people with experience of cancer – Brontë Palmer, Kimia Etemadi and Cait Wilde – which brings readers real life experiences through writing and art.
- What if…? Artist-led business as a practice of worldbuilding is a new essay by co-founder Joon- Lynn Goh which charts the story of Sex with Cancer and explores the possibilities of artist-led businesses.
To find out more about Sex with Cancer’s mission, to purchase any of the toys and products, or to find out the answers to some of the most often-wondered but little answered questions, visit https://www.sexwithcancer.com/