The world’s first sex shop specifically for cancer patients is planned to open to provide a space for advice and sex solutions without shame.
Sex with Cancer is a community enterprise that has partnered with the London-based sex shop Sh! Women’s Erotic Emporium to look at innovative solutions to the often-ignored problem of illness, intimacy, sexual function and pleasure for cancer patients.
Created by friends, artists and former cancer patients Brian Lobel and Joon Lynn Goh, the project will draw on personal experiences and work with experts in the worlds of sex, sexual health and cancer care.
Brian Lobel has been working in cancer care and patient advocacy since 2003 after a diagnosis of testicular cancer when he was 20 years old.
He said: “I met Joon Lynn when she was undergoing treatment for breast cancer at St Barts Hospital in the City of London in 2018.
“We would often meet up and developed a friendship, rooted in care and our shared experiences of cancer.
“Conversations we had often grew into exploring the provocation and we’d ask ourselves ‘what would a resource and sex shop run by cancer patients and their admirers look like?’
“We knew first-hand that people with cancer diagnosis are often shy or embarrassed to talk about sex with their medical teams, but also that many doctors and nurses lack confidence talking about sex and sexuality with their patients.
“Another thing we really noticed was that the information that was out there was largely medical jargon and warnings, none of which is sexy.
“So we knew we had to do something – this is where Sex with Cancer was born.”
Joon Lynn Goh is a cultural organiser working across migrant movements, popular education and solidarity economies. She was treated for breast cancer in 2018.”
Joon Lynn added: “With such huge gaps in services and knowledge surrounding cancer and sexual health available currently, Brian, I and our Steering Group, in partnership with Sh!, art venues, and with support from Arts Council England, have launched Sex with Cancer.
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“Inspired by histories of marginalised communities who have fought for agency over their own bodies and wellbeing, we are building towards a community enterprise that is a safe space to find creative solutions to the problems caused by cancer.
“And in the context of Covid-19, we think this exploration of intimacy and illness is part of a much bigger shift in our collective understanding of wellbeing.”
The next stage of the project invites the public to take part in an online performance and training course that aims to help people be better at talking about sex and cancer.
Hosted by Brian at the Battersea Arts Centre, this online performance aims to better equip participants for having difficult discussions in a positive and affirming way.
The experience, which takes around 30 minutes to complete, incorporates interactive ‘games’ such as matching body part to possible side effects, before moving on to a gentler conversation about sex, intimacy and the stories cancer patients may be afraid to tell.
On completion, participants will be awarded with a ‘Certificate in Sex and Cancer Conversation Competency’.