Mets, Sex, and Side Effects – Heard in the Halls: Voices From the 2019 SABCS
Kelly Shanahan, M.D.
December 11, 2019

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Dr. Kelly Shanahan, metastatic patient advocate, METAvivor board member, and former OB/GYN talks about the Mets, Sex, and Side Effects panel that she comoderated at the 2019 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium. The panel was cosponsored by Breastcancer.org and Sermonix Pharmaceuticals.

Running time: 3:40

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Kelly Shanahan: I’m Kelly Shanahan, and I’m talking to you from SABCS ‘19. I’m a former OB/GYN and a current metastatic breast cancer patient. I’ve been “not dead yet” with metastatic breast cancer for 6 years now.

So, I’m here tonight to be a co-moderator of a panel on — and I LOVE this title — Mets, Sex, and Side Effects. And there’s some other more mundane stuff about that. This panel is cosponsored by Breastcancer.org and Sermonix Pharma[ceuticals]. And I think the reason I was chosen to be a co-moderator is because I’m an OB/GYN and I’m a metastatic breast cancer patient.

One of the things we patients complain about most of all, especially those of us with estrogen-receptor-positive disease, is the effects of our estrogen-blocking drugs on our sex lives. And someone asked me about this recently, and I said, “You know, we’re going to die from metastatic breast cancer sooner than we should, so why should our sex lives be killed off at the same time?” I mean, let me enjoy SOMETHING before I’m 6 feet under or scattered to the winds, as the case may be. So I’m really excited about this.

There’s an excellent panel of people, so representing patients are myself and my twin that doesn’t know how to spell her name correctly, Kelli Davis, as well as a very well regarded oncologist, Dr. Stephanie Graff, who is also an amazing advocate and participant in #BCSM on Monday nights. Dr. David Portman of Sermonix and Dr. Marisa Weiss of Breastcancer.org are also on the panel representing more of the oncology — and Dr. Portman’s a gynecologist — perspective.

Because it’s really funny — and I’m going to say this word as many times as possible during this talk — I know that when I was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer and was placed on an aromatase inhibitor, my first oncologist, who was a man, never, ever, ever, EVER asked me about sexual side effects of this drug. I did eventually see a female oncologist who did ask me about it. But man, you notice at these meetings, the oncologists dress better, I notice they dress better than certainly we did as gynecologists at gynecology conferences. So I think they’re a little bit more uptight about talking to their patients about sex.

So we don’t have to worry about that with Dr. Portman and I because we’re both gynecologists, and I’m going to say the word “vagina” as many times as I possibly can during this. And I hope it’s going to be informative. I’m hoping that somebody will Facebook Live it, I might hand somebody my phone and just order them around, because I’m just mildly bossy! So, I hope that you all can enjoy this, if you get a chance to hear about it later, because we do need, as patients, we need to feel empowered to tell our providers about all the side effects of our medication, not just nausea, not just diarrhea, not just neuropathy, but also dry vaginas.

Jamie DePolo: And let me ask you this, are you going to make a presentation and then take questions from patients in there, is that the idea?

Kelly Shanahan: This is really going to be an interactive discussion. So, David and I are the co-moderators, and we are going to ask the panelists some questions and bring things in. But we really welcome questions from the audience, and chime in if you have a question. And if we can get somebody to do this, maybe we can get some Facebook questions as well.

Jamie DePolo: Alright! Well, thank you so much.

Kelly Shanahan: You’re very welcome, Jamie.

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