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WomenStories Video Intimacy is Focus for Nurses
  Amy Rettig, a Breast Health Nurse at Woman Wise, the mammography department at Blanchard Valley Regional Health Center in Findlay, Ohio, recently used the WomenStories video, Intimacy in her presentation at the annual convention of the Academy of Medical-Surgical Nurses. Her topic: "Sexuality and the Breast Cancer Patient." She reported that the video was a big success and that there were two breast cancer survivors in the audience who commented that the video was very true to their experiences. In fact, one of them, a seven year survivor, still struggles with sexuality and intimacy and bravely acknowledged her difficulties to the group. There were a lot of heads nodding during the video and presentation, and afterwards, many nurses expressed appreciation for bringing this topic to the conference.

Ms. Rettig gives her reasons for selecting Intimacy for a presentation to nurses: “First, the video illustrates how different women and their partners lived through the experience of a breast cancer diagnoses specifically focusing on intimacy. Second, the survivors in the video were very clear that health care practitioners did not bring up the subject of intimacy and sexuality. Third, the women expressed that they would have appreciated discussing the topic of sexuality and intimacy with their doctor or nurse. Finally, there was a range of experience represented - some good and some not so good - that made the video an excellent representation of what I hear from my own patients. I wanted the nurses who came to my presentation to leave with the understanding that this is a real issue that needs to be addressed - not just for breast cancer patients but for all patients.”

Ms. Rettig continues: “After I previewed Intimacy the first time, I decided to take action and build a continuing education program about sexuality and intimacy. Nurses talk about sexuality in nursing school and then forget to address this very human need once we get out into practice. Sexuality and intimacy become the "extra" that we get to if we can. In my presentation I stressed the importance of addressing this need and it doesn't mean you have to be a sex therapist! A simple open-ended question lets patients know it is okay to talk about sexuality and intimacy issues. This kind of discussion, followed by nurses helping them find resources, can make a big difference in patients’ lives.”