Pleasure with a Purpose
Young Survival Coalition and Somatica Institute
Sometime after the double mastectomy I attended the Young Survival Coalition’s annual retreat. It’s a gathering of hundreds of women under the age of 40 who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I went to a workshop called “Where the Single Ladies At?” It consisted of maybe 40 or 50 women who were single, talking about how they date during and post-breast cancer treatment. It was very practical, but also very heartfelt. Topics like how to explain on their dating profiles that they only have one nipple. Or what kinds of sex toys they use now that they have decreased lubrication. I sat there and just cried the whole time. I thought this is what I want to do. I want to work with women around sexuality and breast cancer.
“I want to work with women around sexuality and breast cancer.”
Then I enrolled at the Somatica Institute…
“I had no idea how profoundly Somatica would transform my life.”
I trained as a Somatica sex coach to heal from my own experience with breast cancer… I thought, OK, as my side hustle as a filmmaker and part of my life’s purpose, I am going to do Somatica work with breast cancer survivors. One day I’ll be the one to say, “Here are the hormonal effects from taking Tamoxifen. Here is the lube you can use to make it better. Expect these kinds of ups and downs with hormone therapy on your labido. Totally normal.” And I’d still like to do that.
I had no idea how profoundly Somatica would transform my life. It really helped through my transition to realize that it wasn’t going to affect my sex life just because I was…scarred in this way. Especially at the beginning, I became so distracted by the sensitivity of my body and the lack of sensation, that I had to pull myself away from distraction. If a moment of feeling shame arose, or tension around the scarring—this kind of mutated feeling—I’d take a really deep breath, focus in on my sensations and give gratitude for being alive. Somatica taught me to deepen into sensation and let go of shame.
“Somatica gave me a language to speak with my partner about what I was going through.”
More than anything, Somatica gave me a language to speak with my partner about what I was going through. It gave me the courage to be really really honest with my lover. I could say things like, “That’s great. You can kiss my breasts. I don’t feel anything but it looks nice and it makes me feel alive. So go ahead.”
Somatica gave the language to tell my partner that presence is what makes me feel really comfortable and open. This quality of presence is really important to me. Feeling that someone is there with me, for me. We are here with a purpose, and that purpose is my pleasure! I focused on sensation, which brought me into more presence, which made everything better.