BY STEVE FROHMAN
One in six men in America today is affected by prostate cancer. I am one of those men. I learned early on that the survival rate is extremely high, which I found comforting. I also learned that even with the latest nerve-sparing surgery techniques or the most accurate delivery of radiation treatment, there was a high possibility that my physical ability to engage in an intimate relationship would be negatively impacted, at least to some degree.
Today, I celebrate four years of living cancer-free and feel physically, mentally, and spiritually fulfilled. The journey from merely surviving cancer to resuming a life that thrives was full of challenges that my wife, Cindie, and I didn’t anticipate. Many of the physical aspects we enjoyed in our relationship disappeared after my prostate was removed. This impacted our entire relationship. Over the next three years, we learned to look at sex in a whole new way.
At first, we focused on all the traditional medical solutions with little success. Finally, the breakthrough came when we were able to better define the problem─a lack of intimacy and sexual fulfillment. We took many wrong turns and lived in survival mode longer than necessary but, eventually, we were able to expand the “playing field” and create dozens of solutions for intimacy.
We later learned that many men and couples struggled with intimacy issues after treatment for prostate cancer and, because of all that we learned on this journey, we were inspired to create Solutions for Intimacy, an organization dedicated to assisting men and couples live a sexually fulfilled life after prostate cancer.
Throughout our journey, we learned the importance of:
• Defining intimacy. To me, intimacy was about achieving a physical destination. Through conversation, I discovered Cindie defined intimacy much more broadly. Her definition included a physical, mental and spiritual focus. We redefined intimacy to mean a journey that culminates in sexual fulfillment.
• Exploring different solutions. We explored various options until we found those that worked for us. By relying on a combination of resources, both traditional and non-traditional, we found that a fulfilling sex life is possible and can be even better than before. Traditional resources included my urologist, other medical professionals, and the use of pharmaceuticals. Non-traditional resources included a naturopathic physician, a psychologist, a hypnotherapist, a tantrika and a chiropractor. We balanced the benefits of high-technology western medicine with the practices of a more holistic approach to ultimately achieve a more fulfilling relationship than we ever imagined.
• Excellent communications. Achieving high levels of intimacy results when partners share feelings rather than thoughts. For me, the path to sexual fulfillment was more about how I felt rather than what I thought. Creating a feedback loop with Cindie, based on our feelings, allowed us to not only meet our needs, but often exceed them.
• Believing in a thriving life. Know that you can do it. Commit to taking the journey. Be open to experimentation. If you want a different result, you must take a different action. You’ll find things that don’t work for you… stop doing them. You’ll also find things that work for you in your relationship… do those things more often. In doing so, you’ll be creating the journey of a lifetime.