Dating After Cancer
I think we can all agree that dating can be tough, but dating after cancer is on a completely different level.
Will anyone want to date me?
Going through chemotherapy at 25 years old left me feeling really insecure. There were a lot of nasty side effects that I dealt with and I didn’t even recognize myself anymore. The hardest part for me was the irrational fear that nobody would ever want to date me again.
I started looking at myself as damaged goods. Why would anyone ever want to be with someone who has had cancer? I was so worried other people would hear about my past diagnosis and automatically see bad genes. If that wasn’t a concern, the possibility of a recurrence certainly would be a red flag to someone, or at least that’s what I kept telling myself.
I had no desire to even try to date after I finished chemo, but one of my friends urged me to start an online dating profile to “see what’s out there.” I reluctantly agreed, but quickly realized how difficult it was to simply create the profile. First of all, having my picture taken wasn't something I was incredibly fond of anymore so I had a limited supply to choose from. On top of that, I wore so many different wigs as I was waiting for my hair to grow back that the few recent pictures I had all looked so different! Using an old photo was out of the question since I no longer looked anything like my pre-cancer self.
When do I share that I had cancer?
Then came the scarier questions... if I go on a date, do I need to tell that person about my health history and if so, when is the appropriate time to do so? It doesn’t seem like good first date conversation so do I wait for the second or third date to drop the news? Cancer is now in my past so maybe I don’t need to bring it up at all. Then again, cancer was my entire life for almost a year so it would be difficult to avoid the topic completely.
Countless concerns kept popping up in my mind and the anxiety was growing. With all of these unanswered questions looming over me, I gave up and deleted my dating profile before going on a single date.
I’ve learned a lot in the months since then. I mostly learned that for now, being single has actually been a great thing. I’m trying to relearn what makes me happy and take some time to process everything I’ve been through.
Re-evaluating the process of dating
When I eventually decide to start dating again, I’m going to look at it a bit differently than I have in the past. Everyone has been through difficult times and each person you meet has a story. Although cancer is not something anyone should be ashamed of, I do realize that there may be people in the world who run the second they hear the word. However, anyone who judges so harshly on a topic they likely don't know much about is not the kind of person I want in my life anyway.
Cancer does not define me and I think that’s so important for all cancer survivors to remember.
What type of blood cancer are you or your loved one diagnosed with?