Diagnosed with anal cancer in 2008, my cancer journey began with fear, confusion, and the awareness life had changed in every way. My treatment consisted of radiation and chemotherapy over a five week period. The following days, weeks, and months were challenging as I slowly healed from the physical trauma. Emotionally, I had a new understanding of the importance of my life and its purpose and impact on others.
My journey wasn’t over when my treatment ended. In many ways it had just begun. Though not expected by my medical team, sexual dysfunction was a long term side effect of the treatment. This complication, though challenging physically and emotionally, proved to be a perfect back drop for personal discovery and professional growth.
Today as a certified life coach, I advocate, and support cancer patients, survivors, and their caregivers through the challenges of the diagnosis, its treatment, and the emotional journey ahead. Through my experience, research, and coaching, I’ve gained insight for healthcare providers on changes needed to the current medical model related to addressing sexual dysfunction in cancer patients.
Life Coaching: After The Diagnosis
In my coaching of cancer patients, we look at the effects of cancer on our whole being through treatment into survivorship. With a positive outcome in mind, we break down the fears and feelings that accompany a diagnosis of cancer, we examine the obstacles in and out of our control, and we make conscious choices to impact the results of the treatment.
After Cancer, Solutions for Sexual Health: Coaching
My one-on-one coaching works to identify the issues, understand the impact of those issues, discover personal truths regarding desired outcome, and move patient forward, creating intimacy in their life and relationships.
General Issues Life Coaching
I completed life coaching classes in 2008 through Coach U program and graduated in September of 2009. I serve as Treasurer for the Iowa Chapter of the International Coaching Federation. In 2013, I completed the C2H (From Cancer to Health) Certification Program from Ohio State University.
Sex Intimacy Cancer Support Groups
Sex Intimacy Cancer, A Resource Group for Women, was founded to offer resources for women struggling with various forms of sexual dysfunction from cancer or cancer treatment. The support groups included educational topics presented by guest speakers or through articles.
CanCare Volunteer: Fighting Cancer with Hope
CanCare is a network of trained volunteers, providing emotional support to others facing cancer. CanCare trains groups of volunteers three times per year. The 17-hour training course is broken up over three days, designed to prepare volunteers to help others cope with the physical, emotional, psychosocial, and spiritual aspects of their cancer experience. A patient is matched with a CanCare volunteer for one-on-one emotional support based on a variety of criteria including cancer site, treatments, age and gender. As a CanCare volunteer, we give meaning to the word “Hope”. We offer encouragement in the face of the unknown, and support for the journey ahead.
Volunteer Infusion Suite University of Iowa
Weekly visit with patients while they receive their chemotherapy treatments. I actively listen as we visit, offering compassion and empathy, support and encouragement.
Iowa Cancer Consortium
The Iowa Cancer Consortium (ICC) is a partnership of researchers, legislators, health care providers, faith-based organizations, public health professionals, caregivers, cancer survivors, volunteers, and many other Iowans who work together to reduce the burden of cancer in Iowa. I serve as the Co-Chair of the Quality of Life Committee.