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The Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer
Spring greetings from chilly New England! I can’t say that I ever imagined beginning my tenure as Network Chair in the middle of an on-going pandemic...but indeed here we are. I hope that you and your families are safe and well during this unpredictable era.

I’d like to begin by acknowledging a debt of gratitude to our outgoing chair, Dr. Shari Goldfarb, as well as to our current Leadership Team, Network Board, committee members and management company who have all been unwavering in their commitment and enthusiasm this past year, despite the trials and tribulations. I also want to underscore my gratitude for their creativity and flexibility. It has not always been easy to stay focused on running the Network while also balancing multiple unanticipated stressors for close to a full year.

When we said our good-byes after our last meeting and pre-conference CME course at Ohio State University in November 2019, we assumed we’d meet again in the Fall of 2020. Alas, this was not possible. Although our Network had never previously ventured into the world of online programming, we made the decision to develop and deliver two well-received webinars in the Fall of 2020. In addition, we had our first on-line ‘Networking with the Network’ event in December, which was a great success and brought people together from all over the US in spirited conversation and inquiry. Looking ahead, on April 9, the Network will hold a virtual Scientific Session that you will not want to miss! Please see below to learn more and find a link for registration.

In my new role as Chair, I am excited to share my desire to significantly expand the presence of patient advocates in our ranks. I am delighted to say that both membership dues and fees for the upcoming Scientific Session are waived for patient advocates and I would heartily invite each of you to spread the word about the Network to any patient advocates/survivors who might want to join us in our mission to create a world in which all women and girls affected by cancer have timely access to evidence-based education and care to promote sexual well-being.

When I think about what has helped sustain me over this past year, I immediately think of friends, family, and community. In addition to the Network being a professional organization committed to accelerating science and promoting evidence-based practice, it is also a Network that promotes nurturing relationships, supports a vibrant and respectful exchange of ideas, and ultimately fosters a sense of community. Although 2020 was not anything close to what we might have imagined, I am encouraged and inspired by our robust interdisciplinary network of clinicians, researchers, and healthcare professionals, from more than 30 institutions worldwide, and I am eager to continue building and expanding our community as we forward our mission together.

If you have not yet renewed your membership for 2021, I warmly invite you to do so today!

All my best,

Sharon Bober, PhD
Virtual Scientific Session
April 9, 2021 @ 12:00pm – 3:00pm Eastern
As Dr. Bober noted above, we’ve had to pivot to a virtual meeting format this year and have put together an abbreviated Scientific Session on April 9. The program will be as exciting and informative as you have come to expect from the Network. We are excited to showcase Dr. Areej El-Jawahri, oncologist and researcher from Massachusetts General Hospital, in our keynote address. Her talk is entitled, Sexual Health and Intimacy: Integrating Patient-Centered Interventions in Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Practice. Her research interests include investigating patient-reported outcomes, developing interventions to enhance patient-centered decision-making, and designing supportive and palliative care interventions to improve the care of patients with hematologic malignancies and their families. She is also interested in exploring models of health care delivery to improve patients’ quality of life and end of life care and to enhance their prognostic understanding. Dr. El-Jawahri is the Director of the Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Survivorship Program and the Associate Director of the Cancer Outcomes Research and Education Program (CORE) at Massachusetts General Hospital.

Dr. Areej El-Jawahri
We are also featuring a special session focusing on the measurement of sexual function for women with cancer, with applications to both research and clinical practice. Additionally, oral and poster presentations will highlight the latest science in our field, and this year’s recipient of the Stacy Tessler Lindau Trainee Award will be announced!
View Program
Register Now
The Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer recognizes and thanks the following companies and institutions for their support of this year’s Virtual Scientific Session:
Soul Source, Inc.
Networking with the Network
Thursday, May 6 @ 8:00pm Eastern
Join us on May 6 for engaging conversation with experts who work at the intersection of women’s sexual health and cancer. We’ll revisit some of the topics from our Virtual Scientific Session and begin new conversations as well! When you register, you’ll have the opportunity to select one breakout session to attend where you’ll have the opportunity to ask our experts the questions you’ve been searching for answers to!
  • Breakout 1: Innovative Technology-based Approaches to Improve Women’s Sexual Health After Cancer Diagnosis
  • Breakout 2: Current Issues and Updates in Measurement of Women’s Sexual Function in Cancer Survivors
  • Breakout 3: Building Relationships with Patient Advocates and Community Partners to Accelerate Research and Practice
Register Now
New Network Event for Members:
Peer Supervision/Expert Consultation
We offered our first Peer Supervision/Expert Consultation session for Network members on February 24. It was a dynamic, multidisciplinary, and highly participatory opportunity for both seasoned and new Network members to come together and discuss clinical cases and questions about practice. In the 75-minute discussion facilitated by Carol Kuhle DO, MPH, from Mayo Clinic and Kristen Carpenter, PhD, from Ohio State University, we covered territory from dilator therapy protocols to guidance for systemic hormone therapy in BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 patients after risk-reducing oophorectomy, to advice on building a sexual health clinic. The time was rich with valuable commentary from facilitators and participants alike, and we hope to offer similar sessions in the future as a benefit of being a member of the Network.
Member Recognition
Network members Kristen Carpenter, Elizabeth Arthur, Allison Quick, and co-authors have a clinical review paper in the Journal of Geriatric Oncology entitled, Let's get it on: Addressing sex and intimacy in older cancer survivors ( The manuscript provides a basic toolkit for assessment, initial treatment, and referral for older adults' sexual health needs.

Congratulations to Network members Elizabeth Arthur (co-PI) and Allison Quick (co-I). They and their team were awarded an Ohio State Comprehensive Cancer Center Intramural Research Award ($176,000, funded by Pelotonia) for their project, Vaginal Microbiome as a Biomarker of Pelvic Health and Patient-Reported Outcomes in Women Receiving Pelvic Radiation.

Published an article? Won a grant or award? Let us know! Send your news to for inclusion in the next Network Newsletter!
Recommended Read

Medical Bondage:
Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology

Dierdre Cooper Owens
This issue’s recommended read comes from Dr. Stacy Tessler Lindau, tenured professor and practicing gynecologist at the University of Chicago, and the driving founder of the Scientific Network.

In her essay for The National Book Review, Dr. Lindau explores how the effects of the unjust and exploitative medical practices endured by enslaved women, discussed in Dierdre Cooper Owens’ book Medical Bondage: Race, Gender, and the Origins of American Gynecology, continue to reverberate through modern gynecologic care. Calling Professor Cooper Owens’ work essential reading, Dr. Lindau challenges her colleagues to step into “the truth of our common humanity, while owning our sordid past.” Read her entire essay here.

Have you recently read a practice-changing work? Do you have a relevant patient educational recommendation that other Network members may benefit from? Share your Recommended Read with the Newsletter Committee! Email us at

Jennifer B. Reese, PhD, completed a randomized controlled trial investigating the impact of a multimedia intervention aimed to facilitate breast cancer (BC) survivor-initiated patient-provider communication regarding sexual health. Self-report survey data was collected at baseline, post-intervention, and 2 months post-intervention, measuring patient sexual health communication beliefs and self-efficacy, sexual activity, anxiety/depression symptoms, and QOL. Clinical communication on sexual health was measured by coding patient-provider recorded dialogue.

In comparison to the control arm, participants who received the multimedia intervention were more likely to initiate a conversation on the topic of sexual health with their breast cancer clinician at their next clinic encounter. Further, at 2-month follow-up, those receiving the multimedia intervention reported statistically significant improvement in levels of sexual health communication self-efficacy and anxiety and were more likely to be sexually active than those in the control condition. Dr. Reese and her team published their work in the journal Psycho-Oncology.
View Publication

Kelly Shaffer, MD, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Charlottesville, VA

Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I am a licensed clinical psychologist and Assistant Professor with the Center for Behavioral Health and Technology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. I came full circle coming back to Charlottesville for this position, having attended University of Virginia for my undergraduate degree. From there, I went to University of Miami for my PhD in health psychology, Massachusetts General Hospital for clinical internship, and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for my post-doctorate training.

What is the focus of your research and/or clinical practice?
My research examines psychosocial impacts of cancer on patients and their families, as well as how the Internet and mobile technologies can increase access to effective interventions to attenuate the psychosocial impact of cancer. I am particularly passionate about ensuring cancer care addresses the unique needs of survivors’ family members – a pertinent issue in sexual healthcare, given the impacts of cancer-related sexual concerns on survivors’ intimate partners. In the Center for Behavioral Health and Technology, we work on the development of high-quality digital health interventions, and I’m excited to work towards addressing barriers to widespread sexual healthcare access in oncology using this delivery modality.

How long have you been a member of the Network?
I’m pretty new! You could say I was hooked from the beginning – I attended my first meeting in 2019 at the Ohio State University on recommendation from a colleague. I was immediately drawn to how collegial and supportive the attendees were and thoroughly enjoyed the networking events.

What do you find meaningful and/or how have you benefited from Network membership?
I am continually struck by the camaraderie and shared passion among the Network members. I come away feeling energized and empowered from every Network event that I attend. There is something exceptionally special about being a part of a multidisciplinary group such as this, where professionals from different backgrounds bring their unique expertise to address a shared cause. I have already greatly benefited from the generosity of Network members sharing their expertise and time, and I am hopeful for many productive and uplifting collaborations to come.

What is an interesting fact about you, or what is your favorite hobby?
My husband and I have a rescue greyhound named Porter – this dog is the sweetest couch-potato snuggle buddy and I could talk about him for hours!
Find a Provider Directory*
The Scientific Network Find a Provider Directory on our website allows patients to find reputable care providers in their area. But they cannot find you if you don’t opt in! Follow these steps to make sure you are listed in the directory:
  1. Log in to the Scientific Network website.
  2. Navigate to the My Profile page via the drop-down arrow in the upper right corner by your name.
  3. First, click on “View/Change Addresses” in the left navigation panel. Make sure your Work Address 1 is the primary address, as this is the address that will display in the Find a Provider search results. You can add an address if necessary. Click “Save” at the bottom of the page.
  4. Next, in the left navigation panel, click on “Find a Provider Profile.”
  5. Update your preferences to “Yes” and enter a short biography so patients know what services you offer and why you are the best choice for them.
  6. Save your update.
* You must be a current Scientific Network member to be included in the Find a Provider directory. Not a member? Join today!
Laila Agrawal, MD, Louisville, KY (Norton Cancer Institute)
Svetlana Avulova, MD, Rochester, MN (Mayo Clinic)
Donna Herrera Bell, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, Houston, TX (MD Anderson Cancer Center)
Deanna Birling, MSN, ANP-BC, Muskego, WI (Ascension Healthcare)
Brooke Cherven, PhD, Atlanta, GA (Emory University)
Terri Coutee, Duvall, WA (DiepCfoundation)
Karlene Cunningham, PhD, Greenville, NC (Brody School of Medicine)
Lorraine Drapek, NP, Danvers, MA (Massachusetts General Hospital)
Lesley Glenn, Central Point, OR (Project Life)
Haerim Lee, Atlanta, GA (Emory University)
Maryam Lustberg, MD, MPH, Columbus, OH (Ohio State University)
Fiona McAuley, New York, NY (Columbia University)
Traci Owen, RN, CSE, SE, Broken Arrow, OK (Cancer Treatment Centers of America)
Victoria Pohl, APRN, Simsbury, CT (Connecticut Children’s)
Kristin Rojas, MD, Miami, FL (University of Miami)
Lois Ramondetta, MD, Houston, TX (MD Anderson Cancer Center)
Jennifer Vencill, PhD, Rochester, MN (Mayo Clinic)

The Scientific Network Newsletter is brought to you by the Newsletter Committee:
Marloe Esch, BSN, RN, OCN - Chair
Liz Arthur, PhD, APRN-CNP, AOCNP
Pebble Kranz, MD, FECSM
Nathalia Ramalho, MD
Christina Wilson, PhD, WHNP-BC
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