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How do you deal with dating as a cancer survivor?

Dreamdove's picture
Dreamdove
Posts: 175
Joined: Sep 2008

I'm finally putting myself out in the dating world, going to single events and joining dating websites but I am unsure about how to present myself as far as revealing I had cancer to someone I am interested in and don't want to lose. There is someone who is interested in me and knows about the cancer but so far I have kept it at a friendship level. I'm afraid he will just move on because I'm just not ready and I am afraid I will dissapoint him or anyone I date. I have surgical scars on my stomach and because I had 3C ovarian cancer I had a hysterectomy so it affected my desire. Yet I still enjoy being around men and long to have a nice relationship with one. I have been cancer-free for 15+ months.

zahalene's picture
zahalene
Posts: 624
Joined: Nov 2005

This has not been an issue for me, but it occurs to me that you might give some thought to how you would feel if the situation were reversed. How much would you want to know about a man you were dating and how soon in the relationship would you expect 'full disclosure'?
In fact, anyone you date may have issues which he is reluctant to discuss with you. Generally speaking, I would suggest an honest exchange fairly early in a relationship. Not many of us reach 'maturity' without something in our lives which we need to handle with care.

Dreamdove's picture
Dreamdove
Posts: 175
Joined: Sep 2008

Thanks so much for that advice. It really gives me a different perspective. I think if I met a man I truely liked and wanted to be with, I could deal with him being a cancer survivor. Yet, many cannot. They are afraid. You hear about people losing friends because of it. Some people don't talk to you anymore. On T.V. on Friday night they said 1 in 2 men will get cancer in their lifetime, 1 in 3 women. It's funny because I'm not even afraid of it. I don't want pain or dissability, however. I'd rather someone tell me soon into the relationship, before things get taken further. I think it's only fair. So I have decided that is what I will do. Maybe not on the first date but soon after if it looks like there is potential for sometime serious developing. Take care and good luck.

frisco_seabiscuit
Posts: 10
Joined: Sep 2008

My best friend did not have cancer, although she had a hysterectomy (5 years ago) at age 19. She still struggles with telling potential boyfriends that she will never have children. I can only give you the advice I gave her...

* Be honest when you're ready to talk about it.
* Be encouraged that there is ALWAYS something difficult to accept/ understand in ANY relationship.
* Be aware that anyone can die any day, cancer or not!

I hope that helps.

PS- My best friend has scars from two open heart surgeries, a hysterectomy and countless operations. She is beautiful. Your scars testify to how much you have been through! You are beautiful! Anyone who begins to love you will see this.

Dreamdove's picture
Dreamdove
Posts: 175
Joined: Sep 2008

frisco_seabiscuit, thanks for the encouragement. I needed it. I was starting to get pretty negative about the whole dating thing. I started thinking maybe I should give up on it, even though the cancer hasn't returned. But I always, deep down, keep hoping there is a "special someone" out there for me no matter what.

RE's picture
RE
Posts: 4606
Joined: Feb 2004

Hello Dream,

As I read your post I thought "she is not cancer" she is a beautiful person who has had cancer. Dream, everyone has something don't count yourself short. I am quite sure you have much to give. Like the others I suggest honesty early in a relationship, remember that you are so much more than just a person who has had cancer. I hope you find that special someone you are looking for. Many hugs to you!

RE

Folks24
Posts: 96
Joined: Feb 2007

Well, life has no guarantees for anyone. I wouldn't be reluctant to admitting being a cancer survivor to a potential date. Might as well weed out the "when the going gets tough the tough get going" types from the start. Neither of you know what is down the road of life - but you want someone that will have the "guts" to stick it out in all "weathers".

Maybe I just have a different perspective. I was a caretaker for my folks for many years (only child) who have since passed and I've been diagnosed with indolent lymphoma. I put a lot of emphasis on people's character more than other "stuff". But I have to tell you, I times I do find the pickins pretty slim in that dept. :)

superted
Posts: 5
Joined: Oct 2008

Hi there,
I am 35yr female, have just completed 6 months of chemo (after surgery)for colon cancer.
I have had a couple of dates lately, and I met a nice guy who hasn't asked me out again.

I was determined not to let the label of cancer survivor make me think that may have affected his wish to see me again. But now I am finding those thoughts a bit overwhelming. What if it is the fact that I've had cancer??? Will other men feel the same way automatically?? The fact that I am thinking this way scares me....I don't want this to become a mental block and negative thinking affect my outlook..

More than anything, I can't change the past but I want to have the most positive attitude I can to dating.
Has anyone out there got some positive stories about dating?

Thanks so much

NoQuiSi
Posts: 106
Joined: Sep 2008

I commend you on the courage it's taken to get through what you've been through as well as to pursue recovery as you have. Let me just say that as an NHL survivor, I've faced this very issue myself...potential romantic involvements, that is.

I was involved with a fella who was aware of my status as a cancer survivor. We broke off the relationship, not because of my situation but rather due to differences of opinion and his demeanor while dealing with them...it really had nothing to do with the cancer itself as I had previously thought it might be, were we to ever separate.

I too was hesitant to pursue a relationship due to my health status, just as you are now. What I'm getting at is that, as has already been said, you want someone who's willing to step up to the plate. I think it's worth the risk to find out.

Had my relationship bombed due to my health status, I still wouldn't have regrets from taking the chance and ever becoming involved...I experienced many good times with him and I'm very grateful for those.

I've learned to take life as it comes and enjoy every minute I can...with no strings, no 'conditions'. Nothing in life comes with a guarantee...I guess it just took developing cancer again to bring that fact home to me.

I say live and live well...take chances and enjoy what you can. You've already seen enough rough spots yourself, as a fellow survivor, now it's time for you to let yourself enjoy some good moments.

Best wishes to you and to coin an old seventies phrase, "Keep on keepin' on!"
Love, Light and Laughter to you,
~NoQuiSi~

terato's picture
terato
Posts: 384
Joined: Apr 2002

Dream,

Dating itself is a stressful situation, involving its own set of risks. Being around those "friends and family" with whom you already feel comfortable is often preferable, following any major life crisis. I fully understand the need for acceptance and validation, following a cancer diagnosis, believe me, I have been there! Having experienced testicular cancer and subsequent divorce, my initial plan was to give up women in favor of deep-dish pizza and beer and becoming disgustingly overweight as a consequence. Then, a young "Cybil Sheppard" started at work and I went on a diet. However, dating invited nothing but heartache, both for me and the women I dated. It had less to do with having had cancer than my motives for dating based on my need for affirmation, rather than the other person. The problem here was that I seemed to attract other needy people with their own agendas, inadequate "soil" from which to grow a mature relationship. Suffice to say, they did not last long.

I am now content to live alone, enjoying the occasional company of friends, family, and co-workers, understanding that everyone travels a difficult road in life, and I don't intend on being just another pothole in someone else's. However, if, after knowing me and my numerous flaws, one of the women whom I am grateful to count among my friends desires to "take it up a notch", I am leaving my options open.

Love and Courage!

Rick

Dreamdove's picture
Dreamdove
Posts: 175
Joined: Sep 2008

Terato, I basically feel the way you do. I still feel that I should try to put myself "out there" and not give up. I should be happy with my family, friends, and co-workers and that should be enough. But I have one child at home left, a 14-year old and she is starting to have her own life. And I have to get mine. The ovarian cancer hasn't come back and it's been 17+ months. But I find it very hard to date. I just can't hide that information about my health and the possibility to may come back to haunt me. But when I look at other couples who have a good relationship, I feel abit envious. I feel that I missed out somehow. I guess I had my chances but I made bad choices. I did have a relationship during the time I was going thru cancer last year but I ended it because it wasn't the same. He stopped making plans for the future and it was as if he was just hanging around because he would feel like a jerk for leaving. We weren't living together but before I got cancer we spoke of the possibility of that. But like you, I like to think I could have friends of the opposite sex and then if something developed, maybe I'd go for it if they felt the same. But most men don't want to be "just" friends. Oh well, I still haven't resolved that issue but am working on it. Thanks for your insight. I appreciate it.

terato's picture
terato
Posts: 384
Joined: Apr 2002

Dream,

Most of my post-divorce social life came from divorced, widowed, and separated groups, where we did things together without the pressure associated with "dating". When there was a wedding or similar occasion, we always knew we could count on each other as companions. Four of the women I met in these groups are still good friends after twenty years. The men in these groups rarely got out of line, if they ever wanted to be invited back, because we all knew each other.

Does something like this sound remotely practical from your perspective?

Rick

Dreamdove's picture
Dreamdove
Posts: 175
Joined: Sep 2008

Terato, I really appreciate your advice. I don't know of any divorced groups (I've been divorced for 16 years) around here but that doesn't mean there aren't any. It would be a good idea to join some sort of social group, not necessarily a cancer group though that would be an idea because we have the same issues. I went to a relative funeral on Monday and hadn't seen most of my cousins since 3 years ago during the last funeral. I noticed that no one approached me like they used to. They seemed awkward. I had to approach them. They didn't seem to know what to say. About all they could say was "How have you been?" but I could see the expression in their eyes. It was as if I had already died. Anyway, I signed myself up for a singles event in my area but I almost feel like signing myself out! It's on Sat. evening--pizza and bowling. I feel weird. I don't know any of those people. At least when I go to single dances I can recognize people from before. I don't think I need to feed my ego but I guess I seek companionship of some sort.

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