BC - Bring Cookies. Bad Choice? Baggage Carrier. Blood Cancer.

Last updated: March 2020

BC. Bad Choice. Be Cautious. Bring Cookies. Blood Cancer. Of course, many of us hear BC and we instantly think about that last one. But for people we interact with, who don’t have cancer themselves, BC may mean one or all of the others. For better or worse, people hear cancer and they immediately think obligations – obligations in friendships, family relationships, and of course, dating.

Here’s a fun experiment to try – spend fifteen years or so writing about every aspect of your life with an illness, every horrible nook and raw cranny, and then, after divorce, for some insane reason, decide you want to look for someone to share a relationship with again. Sound like something you’d want to try? No, of course not, but that’s about where I am now, and it is going swimmingly. Swimmingly like a surfer in shark-infested waters. Yum. Or should I say, chum.

Trying to navigate dating after cancer

Normally, when you meet someone, whether digitally or analog (in person), you don’t immediately barf all the sordid details of your life all over their proverbial shoes. We’ve all met that person who, within the first five minutes, has told us their underwear size and preference, that they one time had a hemorrhoid removed, and that they got picked for the Olympic swim team but had to drop out because of a mysterious fungal infection. You know, totally normal stuff to disclose within the first fifteen minutes of meeting a total stranger. Right? … Yeah, we all think the same thing after that conversation – “luuuunaticcccccc!”

Well, that’s essentially what I’ve done, albeit electronically. It’s like I’ve hired a PR company to ensure that I scare off even the most unshakeable of partners, and they are doing a triple-a movie-star quality job, complete with interns. Where’s my coffee?

Weighing potential solutions

So what is a roguishly handsome, young (ish), professional to do in this age of Google first and ask questions never? Well, I could use a fake name on the dating apps. People do that it seems. I mean, unless that girl’s name really was Dogowner McFido (Irish?). Sounds like half a plan at least, right? Well, I couldn’t even get past deciding what fake name to use. Hercules Warbucks? Lance Steelmuscles? Max Power? (D’oh). After an hour or so things got so muddled, the best I could come up with was Donny Maltone, and since I’m not the bandleader for a third-rate talk show, I conceded that the whole “fake name” thing wasn’t for me.

Besides, what if, against all odds, it worked out? At what point do I say, "Oh, by the way, I’m actually Daniel P. Malito, award-winning author, divorcee, cancer survivor, barf, barf, barf, barf… sorry about your shoes." Girls love surprises, right?

Since the whole "nom-de-guerre” thing was out, I tried to think about what else I could do. I could claim that everything I write about is an exaggeration and I just had a really bad stomach ache? Yeah, that’s the ticket! Glad we solved it. Hmmm, the thing is though, it might be a little weird when she meets my friends and family and wonders why they all seem so happy about me “beating” my “stomach ache.”

“What can I say hun, everyone is just really, really… really into my digestive health. Really. Ask them if they are happy the thing in my stomach is gone if you don’t believe me, but don’t ask any follow-up questions.”

I could try it, I suppose, but I’m not sure which I’m more afraid of – that I’d get busted or that it would work. Yikes.

A vow to be myself

In the end, I think we can all agree that pretending about anything is just too much work... and wrong! Yes, it’s wrong, totally. That’s the real reason not to do it. Stay in school kids! Ahem, anyway, that means I just have to own it, but these days when Googling is a mandatory protocol, it’s difficult for me to mete out the information in bite-size, easily digestible, morsels of truth.

It’s much easier to ask someone to help with your carry-on once in a while than it is to ask them to lug your surfboard, golf clubs, and seven Louis Vuitton cases and valises (even my analogies have good taste) all in one go. I can’t even hold anyone responsible for not wanting to shoulder that amount of baggage. I know what I’d think if I was overwhelmed with life-or-death information like that all at once. It would go something like this, “well, I have to go now.. my.. grandmother is on… fire? Ok then. Don’t call us, we’ll call you!”

Learning to reveal a little at a time

How can I hold anyone else to a standard I’m not willing to follow myself? In some of my other posts, I even recommend to people not to overwhelm others with the full fire hose blast of their medical “stuff” all at once, because most people don’t have the capacity to digest it in one, humongous, bite. Even with mayo.

Rock and a hard spot. Catch-22. Devil and the deep blue sea. All the places I find myself in. I wish I could find a way to dump some of this baggage strapped to my back – and it’s not that I’m not proud of being a fighter, I just wish the load was a little lighter.

I guess what BC really stands for is Baggage Carrier. Talk Soon.

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