Dear Friends and Colleagues,
As I write my last letter as Chair of the Scientific Network on Female Sexual Health and Cancer, we find ourselves in the midst of perhaps the most challenging and troubling times many of us have experienced in our lifetimes. An international pandemic that at that time I write this has our president hospitalized, racial inequities brought to the forefront, political divisiveness, raging forest fires, and most recently, the loss of Ruth Bader Ginsberg, a champion for gender equity and equal rights for human beings. Ruth Bader Ginsberg has always been an inspiration to me, and I was fortunate to have the opportunity to sit one on one with her. Her legacy will live on in all the lives that she has touched. With these recent events and the ongoing uncertainties we face, I find myself confronting many emotions all at once.
Among my emotions is disappointment, as I must share with you that our annual Network meeting, which was rescheduled to April 2021, must once again be postponed due to the current uncertain climate. We have heard from many in the Network that their institutions have prohibited business travel through next summer, making travel to a conference impossible, even if a safe way to do so could be found. We recognize that until there is a widely utilized, safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine, we have to defer our plans for in-person meetings. This is quite disappointing because we hold tight the notion that all of us working to fulfill the mission and vision of the Network benefit immensely from the opportunity to connect in person. We feel the loss of this missed opportunity to converse with colleagues whose work we admire and clinical experts whose successful sexual health clinics we would like to emulate.
Yet despite how the coronavirus has upended our plans for an in-person conference, I feel hopeful. We have been challenged with the question of how we can bring our members valuable content and remain connected while our situation requires that we remain in a virtual format. We are making great strides toward this goal. First, our Board and Leadership are working hard planning for online clinical and research offerings that will come your way in Spring 2021. While these virtual events won’t replace our conference, they will offer three key things which we know are of great value to Network members: the chance to share research; the ability to benefit from listening to relevant, timely content; and the chance to connect and network with colleagues. We are planning offerings that are not only relevant, but hopefully convenient and even more accessible than our usual in-person conference. In addition, we are planning webinars and online networking events to keep us connected before the spring comes around. Our first webinar on September 30th, 2020, discussed how to create a virtual care team, which is a most relevant topic these days. Our second webinar is scheduled for November 16. We hope that you can join us for it. We are also in the process of planning a virtual networking event for December 2, 2020. Save those dates! If you have ideas for webinar topics that you are interested in, please don’t hesitate to email them to email@example.com and we will see what we can do!
And, perhaps most strongly and most importantly, I am excited. Excited to see what the future will bring under the capable and inspiring leadership of my friend, colleague, and our next Chair, Dr. Sharon Bober, who directs the Sexual Health Clinic at Dana-Farber Cancer Center. Her work is inspiring, and her leadership of the Network has already helped us move forward. I am also excited to think about how we, as a Network, can collaborate to advance our mission and vision of sexual health and well-being for all women and girls affected by cancer – regardless of race, ethnicity, or sexual or gender status. The commitment of our membership, our board, and our leadership team is truly inspiring to me – and gives me unflagging hope that we can continue our efforts in spite of these troubling times. I have no doubt that despite what 2020 can throw at us, our members, our board, and our leadership have the drive and the ability to keep our Network going. I am passing the baton with great hope and excitement for the future of this Network, and I hope that all of you will join me on this journey and be inspired too.
In this Newsletter, I hope you will read our features on our talented members who are in the spotlight, including Drs. Allison Quick and Monica Christmas, about our upcoming events, and about our exciting plans for the future – and be inspired. But I also hope you will share with us what you hope the Network can achieve during these unprecedented and challenging times. We have posed questions about how the pandemic has affected your clinical practice and research on women’s sexual health after cancer. Please share your experiences so that we can relay this back in our next Newsletter. Never have your voices been more important to us or has your work been more critical to women affected by cancer.