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Sexualizing breast cancer… survivors

Sexualizing breast cancer… survivors

One of the things you hear and read about breast cancer is that it attacks women’s sexual self-image. Whether or not you agree with society’s sexualization of breasts, there is no escaping that they are part of the package. And damage to — or loss of — breast tissue, not to mention the fear and sickness of treatment, would be enough to depress anyone’s libido.

This is why I find this line of “pink” products from Pure Romance intriguing.


These aren’t discrete medical devices or marital aides. These are down and dirty sex toys and paraphernalia. The pitch: “Developed especially for women diagnosed with breast cancer, this collection contains safe and effective products for women to use before, during and after treatment.”

And they do more than sell product—they provide sex therapy for survivors:

“The SSS program has a mission to help women recapture their sensual and sexual selves through education, empowerment, and safe product offerings designed specifically for women following cancer diagnosis and treatment.

Our Certified Pure Romance Consultants have embraced the opportunity to enhance the lives of women touched by cancer. It is unfortunate that many women are not aware of all the side effects of their breast cancer treatments and how to overcome them. With the help of our educational materials, products, and resources, our Consultants will be able to provide these women with the confidence they need to improve the quality of their sexual health.

Certified SSS Consultants pledge to offer safe products to enhance women’s sexual experiences and raise public awareness on intimacy and sexual challenges faced by women with cancer.  Consultants will provide an ongoing support network for women and their partners following cancer diagnosis and treatment.”

Patty Brisben, Founder and CEO of Pure Romance, says she founded this Corporate Social Responsibility effort after one of her consultants for the main line of sexual products contacted her to explain how much her training and samples were helping her cope with life after a breast cancer diagnosis. Sadly, the consultant did not survive. But Brisben vowed “to make a difference in the lives of women fighting cancer –to help them regain their spirit and have a quality of life which they may have lost sight of during the course of their illness.”


There’s something to be said from this effort. Sure, they’re selling products with it. But to see a woman-centric company selling sex positivity reach out in such an intimate way to other women seems more sincere, somehow, than some of the less “naughty” efforts. They claim their products are safe, and hopefully they are. But I think this effort to fulfil a very human need puts them among the good Breast Cancer Awareness marketers. What do you think?

Pure Romance: Sensuality, Sexuality, Survival!

I am Creative Director at Acart Communications, a Canadian Social Issues Marketing agency. Read more