As a PhD social worker, licensed clinical social worker and certified sex therapist, Sage brings extensive experience in psychosocial oncology research and patient care. She is the Executive Director of Life with Cancer and Associate Director for the Inova Schar Cancer Institute. Sage’s interests and expertise are sexuality and cancer and the various issues faced by young adults with a metastatic disease. Sage is passionate about sex and intimacy being recovered and renewed for young adults affected by breast cancer. She provides individual, couples and family counseling. Sage has created a niche in her research in this area and has been a presenter for both YSC and Stupid Cancer. We are honored to present Sage Bolte, PhD, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, CST, as a YSC Game Changer for her work as a healthcare provider serving young adults with cancer.
What inspires you in your work to support, empower or educate young women affected by breast cancer?
Young women and their stories inspire me. I remember meeting a young woman 13 years ago who was diagnosed when she was 7 months pregnant with her second child. She was told not only did she have cancer, but that this might be the last biological child she could have due to possible premature menopause caused by her treatment. She and her partner were devastated.
In the process of their journey, their worries about having another biological child lessened, but they became more aware of the long-term side effects treatments were having on their sexual relationship. This brought up a lot of grief, anger and frustration for them. They felt ill-equipped to manage these side effects, unlike how they were prepared for the potential loss of fertility.
This story and many others drive me to educate women about potential sexual side effects. There are many things women can do to be proactive to manage them and improve them. I want women to feel empowered to ask questions and stay sexual during and after treatment, if that is important to them.
I am also very passionate about supporting young women with an advanced disease to ensure they have a place to connect, resources to help them embrace their lives fully and communication tools on how to talk to their loved ones and friends about living with advanced breast cancer.
What about your work for young women affected by breast cancer makes you most proud?
Other than watching the young women I have worked with live their lives fully? Probably my work in sexual health and helping women, regardless of the stage of breast cancer, work to embrace their bodies, their intimate relationships and their sexual selves.
What are your hopes for the future, with regard to YSC and young breast cancer survivors?
I hope that through advocacy, education and research we find a cure and young women don’t have to experience this unwanted life experience. I also hope that YSC and young women use their platform of experience and advocacy to educate healthcare providers on quality of life issues and long-term impacts that a breast cancer diagnosis and treatments can have on young women.
What is your message for YSC on its 20th anniversary?
Here is to 20 more years of helping women connect to their strength and beauty in the midst of unexpected and unwanted life challenges and changes through support, education and community.
About YSC and Game Changers
Young Survival Coalition was founded in 1998 by young women diagnosed with breast cancer under age 35.
YSC is made up of people: survivors, co-survivors, volunteers, donors, healthcare providers. Our strength comes from our community. So in our 20th year, we will honor our roots — the people who have helped build YSC into what it is today — and also look forward, recognizing those in our community who are changing the future of breast cancer in young women.
We are highlighting these individuals as Game Changers throughout 2018 and sharing their stories with the world to thank them for their contributions to our community.