Brisben teaches her employees not to sugarcoat anything. It's a long journey, she said, and each cancer survivor needs to learn to stand up for herself; sexuality can't be a dirty word.
"You truly have to be your own disciple," she said. "Women will demand when it comes to our children or our significant others, but we don't demand for our bodies."
A return to intimacy
Michelle's husband was a "trouper" through her cancer treatment, she said, but the couple had difficulty reconnecting in the bedroom. With her symptoms, her husband had trouble keeping an erection out of fear of hurting her.
She remembers thinking, "He must be so traumatized. ... He only sees me now as a frail being and not as the woman I used to be."
Cancer can test any relationship, said CNN's sex expert Ian Kerner. It's not uncommon for cancer patients to become depressed and question their life path, he said, which a partner can find hard to relate to.
"Ultimately, of course, when you're in the midst of a battle of cancer, you really are focused on survival," he said. "But as you resume your life, you want to resume all aspects of your life. And sexuality becomes a key factor."
Kerner recommends couples start slow: Act like two people in love again, instead of patient and caregiver, by going out on date nights and cuddling in front of the fire.
Make your sexuality an ongoing conversation, he said. Your newfound intimacy might not necessarily be sex in the way it once was -- you have to find a new version of sex that works for you.
"Recovering from cancer, you're often not talking about weeks or months," Kerner said. "You're talking about years."
Michelle has been in remission since March 2009. She's adjusting to life as a survivor, volunteering at Dana-Farber to help others who are dealing with similar emotional scars.
"I'm striving to get back on track with normalcy," she said, "in every facet of my life."