This conference was held by the Metastatic Breast Cancer Network, which is a volunteer-led organization dedicated to people with metastatic breast cancer. This year's conference was held in Chapel Hill, NC so I was there for the weekend.
The conference runs for two days and although I'd planned to go to both days, I didn't make it. I had rented a car and locked my keys in the trunk of the car. I called the rental car company and they sent someone out to unlock the car but it turns out that they still make cars that have no internal trunk release and we couldn't get the trunk open. By the time we figured all that out, the conference was over so I ended up going to the airport early. It was a very long, very boring day.
Fortunately, Saturday's sessions were interesting. There was a talk on molecular genetics that I really enjoyed. It wasn't very detailed but it gave a good overview of the current science and research trends.
The most unforgettable session was the one on pain and sexuality. I expected this to be a session about how to adapt sexuality to the pain but it wasn't that at all. It turns out the speaker is a leading researcher in the area and so the talk was more of how she got the knowledge she did. In all that meandering, I learned a few things:
- When men have sexual problems, it's often considered to be a physical problem but when women do, it's often considered psychological.
- Before addressing sexual pain, the cause of the pain - nerves, skin, or muscle - must be determined.
- Neuropathy can occur in the genital area in the same way as it does in the hands and feet because the nerves are the same size. THIS BLEW MY MIND.
- Any treatment that can affect the mouth can affect the genitals in the same way because the tissues are structured the same way and are both mucous membranes (she had pictures to emphasize this point).
- If the area isn't used, the muscles can atrophy and cause pain, just like they would anywhere else.
- Dilators don't help all that much; a better solution is apparently a modified Hodge pessary kept in at night.
- If the skin has a rash or is very delicate use Crisco shortening(!!) to protect it. Crisco can also be used with the pessary and in place of Replens. It works because it doesn't contain harsh chemicals and it doesn't come off easily.
The session ended up being quite funny and informative. I'm happy that I went just for that because it really was informative.