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Dating; when/how do you tell?

peterw78
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2002

Is there any easy way to tell someone that you have had cancer, or at least to bring it up? I feel that I am getting to the point where I should tell, but I am hesitant and nervous to do so. I was sick during my late teens "prime dating-age" and needless to say miss some of the knowledge you would ordinarily gain. I know that there is no set way to tell someone, let alone the perfect moment, but any advice would be much appreciated. What were your experiences with telling, or not telling?

sparcky
Posts: 17
Joined: May 2001

Hi Peter
Its best to be honest with her. If she is really sincere about the relationship then it will not matter. If you donot tell her then you are cheating her and your self and it will eventually come out and you will be the looser. Yes it is very hard on surviors. However many survivors have married either
another survivor or a non survivor. Some have also gone on to have children after being told that they cannot. I would assume that you do not have the fisical characteristics most childhood cancer survivors have. This has been my downfall. Girls know that I am different but dont know why. They only want to be friends and always have excuses if you do express any interterest in them. I was interested in one survivor along time ago but got the same responce from her. I have mixed feelings about it now. I still think that it is always best to be honest. It is just a matter of finding the right time.
I hope this helps. Good luck.

tom_s
Posts: 19
Joined: Feb 2001

hi peter, and sparcky,
I think the sooner you mention it, the easier it will be. But then, who am I? At any rate you have got to mention it, mind you, once you have done, who knows what she has to tell you about her (medical) past.
take care
Tom

brgndygrl
Posts: 5
Joined: Sep 2002

hello- my name's Kim- I just saw your posting and thought I'd write. I had Ewing's when I was 15 and again when I was 19- how about yourself? How old are you (I'm 22), and where are you from (I'm in Sacramento, CA).

eman25's picture
eman25
Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2006

Hi,

I do not know how to begin to approach this subject. To me, talking about it is no big deal, but I am kind of skeptical as to how other people will take that news. I am about 48 years old, and the only visible sign I have is that I have a port in my chest. That's a leftover from the chemo. I am no longer having chemo, because it was ineffective on my tumor....but I still have a very rare and inoperable tumor in my abdomen. As a treatment, I get monthly injections to control the growth of this tumor, since it is in remission now.

Anyway, the reason that I say that I am skeptical of people's reactions, was that I was emailing someone that I knew in college when I was diagnosed. When I told that person that I have cancer, I didn't get a response for 4 months...because that person said they didn't know what to say.

Kirk

frantik
Posts: 20
Joined: May 2002

Hi there:

This is a tough question, and I know I struggled with it. Especially b/c I not only jad cancer as a young child, but am disfigured from the radiation and have had many significant late and long-term effects. (I won't go into them here, but they're summarized on my web page.) My disfigurement is such that people don't notice it right away, but eventually there is no missing it. There is no "not telling" for me.

I think it's never OK to be dishonest, but I do think it's OK to let information out slowly so as to not overwhelm people. I think it's important to let anyone in a relationship with you know the whole story pretty early on, but I think it's perfectly acceptable to focus on and enjoy the romance for a while and give bits of information as it comes up until I felt close to the person and confident they cared for me.

Looking back I would say honestly that I probably told some people too much too soon of my life story when I was younger, and it did scare them off. But, with that said I'm not entirely sure I regret this. But that's with years of hindsight; I can't say it didn't hurt at the time.

Your story is a deeply personal one, and one that you shouldn't feel compelled to tell until you feel safe and comfortable to do so.

Again, looking back, I think that many frogs were weeded out of my life and I found my prince. I have been married to an absolutely amazing person for almost 4 years now. Overall, I think people will surprise you in their kindness and understanding. I have been pleasantly surprised on many more occasions than I have been disappointed in people. If you feel it's the right time, I'm sure it is. Just let this person know you want her/him to really know you and this is an important part of who you are.

Good luck.
-Fran

jennifer2000
Posts: 7
Joined: Nov 2000

I've never had a problem with anyone's reaction...but my only "disfigurement" (and I don't think I would use that word anyway) is a faded scar from surgery. The reaction is always just an amazed "wow, that must have been rough, you are so strong".

I don't think anyone with a decent soul or brain would be put off by your "secret" if they were interested to begin with.

I think that anytime it fits into the conversation or you feel like telling, you should tell. Don't let it be a stumbling block. I also don't think you should feel like you Have to tell. It's not like you're hiding the fact you have herpes as you climb into bed with them.

SarahJ
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2003

I'm a 24 year old survivor of rhabdomyosarcoma. I also have problems telling anyone about my cancer history(not just potential boyfriends). Sometimes I'm embarassed by other people's reaction and sometimes I feel that they may think I'm making it up because I look so well! I prefer to get to know people well before disclosing my medical history but often find people are upset that I haven't told them sooner. How do other people deal with telling new friends?

bradneilson
Posts: 6
Joined: Jun 2004

Hi I am a 42 yr old father of a 21 yr old son who was recently diagnosed with stage 1 Rhabdo. He is currently undergoing VAI chemo. We live is Australia. What will his future be like with his girlfriend? We grew up together and he is everything to me, I am very worried about him, though I have faith in the Lord. What lies ahead. He is a well built, active youngster. Will he recover fully after chemo? What was your cancer and what Chemo protocol were you on? Regards Brad

srisko's picture
srisko
Posts: 34
Joined: Apr 2008

I'm 24 year old survivor of ALL and I found when I went to college and I told my friends, and they didn't freak out or anything, they asked me a lot of questions which is what I like. I want people to ask me about it. I just trouble with boyfriends as in I've never had one. I've never been on a date, and I haven't even had my first kiss yet its just so hard for me to deal with sometimes especially because I'm in my last year of college and of my male classmates aren't the most mature or brightest people in world. I just want one guy to show me that they're not all the same. I hope everything is going well for everyone,
Sarah

teddy brook
Posts: 2
Joined: Dec 2008

Srisko, I am a survior of Lymphoma cancer. I have the same problem finding an understanding, careing and loving woman. I am a little bit older than you are, but very matured and accomplished. Let us keep in touch and share our experience.

Teddy

liveformiracles's picture
liveformiracles
Posts: 15
Joined: Sep 2009

HELLO MY LOVE :) I founded you! Muahahaha!

So look, I always tell you that you are AMAZING and any guy would be happy to have you (remember what the psychic lady said). But I struggle with this issue myself. I am a 20 year survivor of ALL and decided that I wanted to share my story with everyone one since I was a kid. I went into my elementary school with a scrapbook and Snoopy video relating to cancer and my treatment. I wanted to tell everyone that I had survived cancer. I even based my college minor on it (an unsuccessful one at that). It was not until later on in life that a good friend pointed out to me that it is a subject not everyone is comfortable with. Some people simply can't handle it. So, starting a conversation with "Hi, my name is Laura. I like pina coladas and traveling, oh and I had cancer", doesn't quite work. I have some side effects from treatment that are very noticeable, especially to those that are close to me, so it is a struggle of whether I share it with people or not, and when.

As far as dating, I haven't had much success anyway (too many frogs) but I know that when I do meet the right person I will share it with them when I feel I can trust them, maybe set a time frame like 3 months or choose a special day. Sometimes people figure it out on their own..Sarah and I wear livestrong and ALL awareness bracelets a lot and we are really active in volunteering for cancer awareness causes. If someone is observant enough, they'll pick that up and ask us on their own. I think it would be nice to date other cancer survivors, so that whole issue is just understood...and I think that childhood cancer survivors have a certain maturity and general appreciation that not all people have. But I certainly wouldn't limit myself to just cancer survivors..for now I am happy enough being single. I have to agree with the maturity factor, that my bestest friend said...you want someone with more sense than my first graders to be able to share a personal experience with.

sonia27
Posts: 1
Joined: Oct 2002

there is no really simple answer when telling the person you are dating about having had cancer and surviving....i think it depends on the person at the time that you are with because different people have so individual response to it. i think its a judgement call at the time.

longtermsurvivo
Posts: 12
Joined: Jul 2001

My dear little survivor, it so ez to do it today. Try being of the first survivor of childhood cancer it was hell. No help, no one to talk too. No one understands are can even help you. At 3yr old wilms tumor of the kidney. At was 37 yr ago. Thank God you have friend on the Internet to help to listen to you and "yes" understand what it like to be a survivor in this world.

sorcharose
Posts: 17
Joined: Oct 2002

Your line "no one understands or can even help you",struck me like a ton of bricks. That is my line, my friend. I'm a childhood surivor (then age 3) of ALL. That's how I felt until quite reasently. At 24 now, I'm feeling a bit isolated and like no one really knows where I have been nor what I've had to deal with. I do have lasting disablities from the treatments, however, I get by alright. I'm still struggling with the question, is it ok to be a surivor in this world. Anyway, it was nice to hear someone else utter my words (my inner feelings) for a change. Maybe I'm not so alone in my thinking after all. As strange as it sounds, there is an element of comfort in hearing from others who have been where you have been. After all, early childhood cancer survivors are not easy to locate. Thankyou!!! sorcharose

fisher
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2003

I am a 23y/o female, I had a brain tumor when I was 14. I had radiation on the back of my head resulting in no hair growth in the back of my head, so that is one of the first things I tell the guy. After the first 20 minutes of explaining that I am fine now and I am all done with everything. If your date is still weird after that then YOU CAN DO BETTER. And you will

brgndygrl
Posts: 5
Joined: Sep 2002

I have totally had the same question. It's like, you don't want to have to spew this horrible informaiton on someone who you are just trying to get to know, because it's just such a serious subject. In reality though, I am so open about it, that I couldn't care less about talking about it. I just hate to bring up something so serious when the relationship isn't even that serious. But it is hard to withhold when it's such a huge part of your life. Like, me for example, I am going into the field of pediatric oncology, and every guy asks why....but I don't feel like going right into my life story. When my Ewing's metastasized when I was 19, I was dating a guy who never even knew I was wearing a wig...until one day he walked into my apartment with me completely bald. Wow- being bald sure ups a girls self-esteem! So, where are you from? How old are you? I'm in CA, and I'm 22.

teddy brook
Posts: 2
Joined: Dec 2008

I dont have a problem telling my medical history. But I have the same problem Sarah has-finding an understanding, loving and caring woman. Sarah,have you found a boy friend yet?

srisko's picture
srisko
Posts: 34
Joined: Apr 2008

No I have not found a boyfriend yet. I'm still looking

liveformiracles's picture
liveformiracles
Posts: 15
Joined: Sep 2009

We're working on it. Only the best for my love :)

Mysterial
Posts: 9
Joined: Jan 2009

Telling or not telling people about your cancer experience has to do largely with the way you personally feel about it. At some point, you will come to terms with being a cancer survivor. Are you proud to be a survivor? Are you embarrassed or ashamed? Do you see overcoming cancer as a great milestone, or as a horrible stumbling block?

When I first stopped treatment, I was 13, and not very comfortable talking about it. My peers were not very mature of course, and I was afraid that I'd be seen as "weird" or treated differently. My close friends knew, as did a handful of teachers and faculty, but I didn't want anyone else to know. At that age, I felt embarrassed simply because being a cancer survivor made me different from my peers (at a time when you're trying to blend in). When I got older, my perspective began to change. In junior college, I started doing volunteer work for the American Cancer Society, and then my perspective changed dramatically. Not only was I willing to talk about my cancer experience with others, I felt proud to list my name on the survivor's board.

No one should ever make you feel ashamed or embarrassed that you've had cancer. Your cancer experience is not something you can change, and I believe survivors are strengthened by the experience in many ways. You should be so proud of yourself for getting through it all, and continuing on with your life. The general public is also more aware of cancer survivors, especially with the popularity of such groups as Lance Armstrong's Livestrong, and the Susan Komen Breast Cancer organization. I've yet to meet a person who's reacted badly when I told him/her that I'm a cancer survivor. On the contrary, they're usually amazed and they seem almost proud of me for being a survivor, even if it's someone I just met. When I first told my current boyfriend, he saw it as another one of my strong points. As for the scar on my chest where the Portacath used to be, he sees it as a badge of honor. He said to me, "You beat cancer! You should be proud of that scar."

I can only hope others' experiences have been as positive as mine. If you tell a potential or a new boyfriend/girlfriend or even a new friend that you are a cancer survivor, and they freak out about it, these are perhaps not the kinds of people you want to hang around anyway. People should accept you for who you are, and if you are positive about your survivor status, others probably will be too. If you're still a bit shy about it, that's okay too. You don't have to tell everyone you know if you don't want to--you don't have to shout it from the rooftops--but definitely tell your close friends and new boyfriends/girlfriends. After all, it's part of who you are. Don't stress out about it, and they won't either. Do it in a way that you're comfortable with. If you're both discussing personal stuff, then that's a great time to bring it up. You can even test the waters by asking the person what they think of the Livestrong campaign, or something along those lines. Just relax and be yourself. :)

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