Wednesday, October 26, 2011


I recently saw an interesting article on The Huffington Post. A young woman still being treated for cancer shares about her dating experiences and five critical things she tries not to do. She humorously and poignantly explains her situation. I recommend reading it here.

It got me thinking about the type of people who are willing to date someone with cancer. Aisling Carrol, the author of the Huff Post article says one of her five 'dont's' for dating with cancer is waiting too long to tell someone.

I'm pretty sure there is no right time on a date to tell someone you've got cancer. Especially if you like the person. When I finished treatment and was finally even willing to consider the idea of dating, I had no clue how to do it...When should I bring it up? How much should I tell? It all seemed so daunting. Not to mention that cancer (and a pre-treatment relationship that broke up during treatment) left me feeling damaged and undatable. Whether it was suitors or health insurance companies, no one could possibly ever want me. I was broken; a liability.

Luckily, I've lived long enough to learn that none of that is true. I've met a lot of people with cancer, and plenty of them find relationships...I'm one of them.

I think a key characteristic of an individual willing to date someone with cancer is that they have some sort of a connection to the disease. This isn't something hard and fast, but I can think of a fair amount of survivor friends who are with someone whose family has been affected by cancer. Maybe it's the familiarity that makes it less frightening. I also think there's a compassion that comes from knowing someone who has had cancer.

After a string of dates for the sake of dating, where I worked toward carefully disclosing my diagnosis; building rules to determine when and what to disclose, it turned out it was all for nothing. One winter night, I met with a guy at my favorite dive bar. I broke all my rules and cancer just sort of came up. Seriously. It just happened.

And like that, he knew. When we said goodnight, I was pretty sure I'd blown it and wouldn't hear from him again. It was a shame. He was cool. But really? Who tells someone they have cancer on the first date?!

But then he called. He kept calling. And texting. And wanting to see me. Once I got past the idea that there had to be something wrong with him for wanting to date me, I started to think that maybe it was possible to be uninsurable, and still be datable. More than three years later, I fully believe it.

It takes a special person to love a young adult cancer survivor, to get into a relationship knowing that your partner's body has been occupied by enemy cells who could potentially come back, and all the other crappy things that come along with being lucky enough to survive.

But the most important thing to know if you live to date again is that these people exist. And they aren't crazy. They're compassionate, understanding, loyal, and open to
the idea of dating you based on who you are, not what your prognosis is. Be yourself, cancer and all, and you might be surprised what- and who- you find.

Hope, Love, Run,
Marathon Girl

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