Being diagnosed with breast cancer at 29 is rough. You are quickly thrown into a world of decision-making and self-advocacy; where the balance between quality and quantity of life looms over you while physicians and family each provide their opinions. But then you make it through. You become a survivor and everything in the world is great….except when it isn’t.
The same treatments that saved my life had long-term side effects that had stealthily remained out of the conversation when I weighed my treatment options. To be fair, if someone had told me at the time, “You are going to take this medication for five years, which will prevent the cancer from coming back, but it will also prevent you from having sex in the future,” I probably would have still taken the medication. But after the physical and mental healing of cancer, you want to get back to “normal,” and I quickly realized that the pain doesn’t stop after remission.
Vaginal Atrophy is a common condition for women who have been on adjuvant therapy, but only recently has it been discussed openly. When I first went to my doctor and told her about my symptoms, (i.e. dryness, painful intercourse, etc.), I was told to try lubricant from the drugstore. It goes without saying that if the symptoms were bad enough to discuss with my doctor, we were way beyond drugstore solutions. Unfortunately, there were no other options for me. The few products on the market to treat vaginal atrophy all contained estrogen and centered around hormone replacement for post-menopausal women. As an estrogen positive breast cancer patient, the last thing I wanted to do was put more estrogen in my body.
Enter self-advocacy and a lot of stubbornness. I refused to accept that I had to live like this. I routinely spoke with my gynecologist about the problem until one day she presented a new solution – the MonaLisa Touch. A Clinical Trial was being conducted for this new CO2 laser that would restore the vaginal health to what it was before my cancer diagnosis, and I was fortunate enough to be selected to participate in the program.
With cautious optimism I went in for my first of three treatments, hoping for a miracle, but expecting very little. Three days after my first treatment, I began to feel the results, but ever the skeptic at heart, I told myself it was probably the placebo effect. A week later I could no longer deny it. There was definitely a change. I was still too nervous to attempt intercourse, but the painful dryness was dissipating. After my second treatment I did a little happy dance. I actually felt amazing. The dryness was gone – not just “better,” I mean, it was GONE. I had sex for the first time in a long time and felt like I was 21 again. My third treatment just sealed the deal.
I am happy to report that more than one year from my treatments with MonaLisa Touch, I am enjoying a quality of life that I thought I would never regain. If I can impart one piece of advice onto other women going through the same thing – don’t live with the pain. Like me, you too can regain your smile again.
At 29, Lisa Elliot was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her subsequent treatments lead to menopausal symptoms including extreme dryness, irritation, itching and painful sex. As a young lady in her early 30s, she wasn’t able to sit at her desk without being in severe pain, much less have sex with her boyfriend who didn’t really comprehend why or how this could be happening to someone so young. Then, Lisa’s gynecologist introduced her to a new, non-estrogen therapy. Within two days of her first [of three] treatment, Lisa reported that she had a dramatic improvement in her symptoms. Upon returning for her second treatment, she rejoiced that she had been partaking in sex again with no pain. One year following her series of three treatments, Lisa’s symptoms have not returned.
MonaLisa Touch is a proud partner of Young Survival Coalition.