Wow! I am constantly amazed and impressed by the strength of the women in our community, but November’s Women On Wednesdays solidified my belief that women are resilient, no matter what life throws at them. Last week’s topic of discussion was “Intimacy and Illness” and featured three great speakers and a very interactive and passionate audience. Again, I went into the panel discussion thinking I would have little to contribute and would not be able to relate to the subject matter, but again I was wrong. By the end of the panel discussion I had laughed so hard my belly hurt and had cried so hard my eyes were red.
The discussion began with a power point presentation by Dr. Carol Kuhle from Mayo Clinic’s Women’s Health Clinic. Dr. Kuhle identified many of the physical and physiological barriers that relate to lack of intimacy when dealing with serious illness and also menopause. In addition to Dr. Kuhle’s professional input, we heard from Eden Sonn, a local nurse and cancer survivor, who shared some of her experiences with dating and intimacy as a young woman dealing with cancer. Eden, who also organizes a support group for survivors, shared some light and humorous insight as to what dating is like as a cancer survivor, but also touched on the lack of self-esteem and body image issues faced by many single and married women she has met along the way. We also heard from Jennifer Rand, DAHLC staff member, cancer survivor and nursing student, who shared how her cancer treatment affected her intimacy with her husband and family. The strength, humility, and pure wit of these women in their ability to talk about their “journey” (I know that isn’t their favorite word) and their desire to help women and men find their voice when dealing with illness-related intimacy issues made this Women on Wednesdays a memorable and inspirational event.
By the end of the discussion, it was clear that intimacy is a topic that needs to be brought to light more often, in relation to illness. Just because you’re sick doesn’t mean you don’t want or don’t need physical and emotional intimacy. As someone who has suffered with depression for most of my life, I have also experienced struggles with intimacy at times, but seeing the strength of these women has encouraged me to speak more about my struggles in hopes others will find strength to talk about and seek guidance with their own. This is what this Women on Wednesdays panel is all about: bringing women and men in the community together to discuss important (and sometimes neglected) issues and to empower each other!
The next Women on Wednesdays panel discussion will be January 13, 2016. The topic to be discussed is “Growing up Black in Rochester,” which is sure to be another inspiring and informational conversation about some of the challenges faced by people of color in relation to family and keeping your loved ones safe.
If you just can’t wait until January to get your Rochester Civic Theatre fix, tickets for the play It’s a Wonderful Life (playing December 4th -20th) are now on sale. Or perhaps you have the itch to get involved in a local production? Open auditions for Almost, Maine will be held December 28-29th at 7 pm. Check out the Upcoming Events calendar on the Rochester Civic Theatre’s webpage for more information about these and other great events happening at your local Rochester Civic Theatre.