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Dating someone who has cancer

Posts: 3
Joined: Jan 2004

My partner has had cancer for 6 years. I just began dating him a couple of months ago. The irony is that my father died of cancer about 9 years ago, so the cancer never really bothered me. But, I have a hard time when my partner is going through a lot of pain or a hard time, because he is so used to dealing with it by himself that he doesn't completely let me in. I know that he has to deal with it in his own way and that I am new in his life, but I don't know how to not feel a little left out. It's like he wants me to act like nothing is going on, but then he writhes in pain and I feel helpless. Has anyone else out there gotten into a relationship with someone with cancer?

ceezhar's picture
Posts: 12
Joined: Jan 2004

Honey, you are a blessing to that man! While I was going through treatment my husband of 20 years huddled over me and wanted to help me with everything. But I had to struggle and do as much for myself as I could. I'm sure I hurt him at times, but I explained to him that I felt if I let go of my determination and control, I'd lose the fight. He held me up at the counter while I'd make my turkey sandwich and we'd both cry, but I had to do it for myself. Please don't take your boyfriends independence personally--we all feel like burdens. Just be there. And if you need to talk to someone about these feelings, do so; cry, do so. It is a lonely rode for everyone involved.

Sorry about your dad, too! Good Luck! --Ceezhar

Posts: 2
Joined: Dec 2003

I have been in remission for 9 years. I didn't know how to talk about it many time. Lots of times I didn't even want to talk about it. He is more than likely going through many stages of grief over having cancer from anger,helpless, acceptance, ignoring it, fighting...all kinds of emotions He is probably going through many mixed emotions that he probably doesn't know or even want to deal with. I would imagine he doesn't know all the emotions. He probably wants 'normal' and doesn't know what the means anymore. My father had cancer and I didn't understand it until I went through it. I still struggle for 'normal' and it is a different normal. I'd be sure you are not left out. It feels like post traumatic stress all the while you are not sure if the stress/cancer will really return and try to stuuggle with being "normal"..whatever that is... You are a good friend to look for ways to help. I wish I knew how to tell my now exboyfriend of 5 years. We may have made if if I could.

Posts: 2
Joined: Mar 2004

hello how are you today? well i have not had a partner that has had cancer but i know friends that have..and its not easy..its probally gonna take him time to get use to the fact that you want to help him in any way that you can..just be paitent with him..and let him know every chance that you get that you're there to help him..that you arent going anywhere..that you want to help..just talk to him and he will eventually open up and let you in..

Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2010

My boyfriend had cancer last year, but had it removed. Since then he's had some growths that are not big enough to biopsy yet. He seems scared (sometimes even convinced) that he has metastatic cancer and life will end soon. We've been together for a good many months, and I love him a lot. He sometimes pushes me away, sometimes pulls me close, a few times I even felt that he let me in completely. I'm having a really hard time because I don't know what I can do that would be best for him. I often wonder if I should just leave him alone or if I should be there when he seems unsure or doesn't want company. I'm not sure he knows either. It seems your boyfriend knows what you can do for him to help him feel best—to act like nothing is going on. It seems he doesn't want the cancer to interfere with living a great life, like his focus is not how miserable he feels, but how fortunate he is to be alive and have you by his side, and I admire him for that. If you shift his focus back to the disease, you might be just reminding him of how hard, sad, awful, etc all this is, and he seems to want life, not fear of death in or around him. That is something I wish I had. There is a lot of uncertainty on how to do what/when in my relationship because I don't think he decided how he wants to deal emotionally with the possibility of cancer. And, until he does, I waver with his wishes to open up or shut down. How he is treating me I think is a reflection of how he is treating himself and his life in relationship to the cancer. Maybe if you could substitute your feeling of helplessness for feeling like a contribution to make his life fun and happy you could just be there for him and not be distracted by your own fears and insecurities. I know it's easier said than done (I struggle with it a lot) but I think we need to nurture them any way we can right now, even if it means putting our own needs aside. At this stage, I don't think we would be much help otherwise...

Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2013

My boyfriend had cancer for about a month before we started dating. My father alscan cd cancer so it's a very similar story. David and I have been dating for a year now and we just found out his cancer is back. i totally understand being confused and slightly hurt when your partDow says he doesn't want your help or doesn't let you in. David and I had plenary of stress over that. It made me feel awful. Especially when he didn't want me to come see him in the hospital. 

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