A woman proposes on one knee to her girlfriend. Behind her lurks a giant cancer blob.

Cancer and Relationships and Their "BFF"

Dating. Relationships. Finding the one. Sometimes I think it’s as hard as having cancer. I know that’s going to be a controversial statement to some but before you get all over cancer Twitter and #cancel me, read on a little further. I have discovered something about cancer and dating and I think you’re going to want to read about it.

First, let me just say that, yes, I know this has been discussed ad infinitum, even by me, but I think it warrants revisiting every now and then to make sure it doesn’t fade from popular consciousness. Like those old Warrant albums. Cherry Pie? Underrated, possibly problematic in a #meetoo world song, but I digress. Let’s talk about it.

The huge presence of cancer

Starting or continuing a relationship when you have lymphoma is, in reality, a threesome but certainly not the fun kind that your weird 40 old friend keeps bringing up that happened to him in high school. It’s like dude, you have daughters now, jeez. No, the three people in your relationship are you, your significant or soon to be significant other, and lymphoma. Yes, it’s that big of a presence, cancer. In order of looming presences, it goes 1. In-laws, 2. Cancer, 3. The “best friend” who is obviously still desperately in love with your person. So, yeah, it’s pretty major, and unfortunately, just like the other two on the list, it never seems to be there to do something good. (Sorry to the in-laws and not sorry to the person who still says “BFF” at 40.)

It’s funny because in my post-cancer dating extravaganza I’ve discovered that even if you are now a triumphant “cancer survivor,” it still mars any potential pairings like a brown spot on an apple. Sure, you can cut it out but there’s always going to be that lingering question, “did I just cut out the VISIBLE part of the apple herpes?” Having rheumatoid arthritis didn’t seem to put people off very much, being disabled, having to live at home, even being divorced all seemed to pale in comparison to when I said the “c” word. It’s like some ancient black magic chant that was lost to time that warlocks used to employ to kill the relationships of young lovers… or something like that, you get it. The point is it always seemed to extinguish any smoldering flame that could have been building.

Cancer is scary for those around us, too

I mean, it’s not like I don’t entirely understand what happens. Cancer is a huge, scary, monster of a word and even if you are talking about it in past-tense, it’s such a terrifying prospect that people don’t even want to go anywhere near it. Sure, it may not be active now but like the sweaty dirty tank top guy on the bus – he may not be smelly, but the odds are definitely increased that he will be. I think part of it stems from the fact that people just don’t want to be around “cancer” anything and I’m sure another part of that is that, to some degree, it forces people into an uncomfortable position where they have to confront their own mortality and we all know what a party that can be. It’s the kind of party where they ran out of beer an hour ago and there’s only one plate of chips and someone with dirty fingernails has been double-dipping all night. Yeah, that kind.

So what does this mean? Don’t date? Don’t even try to find someone? No, not at all. Remember I told you that I learned something about dating wayyyy back at the beginning of this article? Well, it’s true, I have, but before I get to it, I want to tell you one more thing. I mean, you could always skip ahead, like an animal, but I know you are better than that. Most of you. I’m looking at you, Steve.

We can't stop people from leaving

As many of you know, I was married once. What you may not know is that I always told myself that I was going to be 100% sure before I did it that this would be the one. I knew how many marriages fail and I didn’t want to make any of the same mistakes, so I waited five years to propose. Five years of close-quarters living where she got the full effect of all my ailments and medical issues, five years of dealing with everything so that there’d be no surprises. Finally, I thought I was sure, and I proposed, and we got married and then three years later I got cancer and the rest is history. What’s that thing they say about hubris and folly? Cancer looked at my cock-sureness and said, “Ho, ho, ho, ho! Have I got a thing for you…” It taught me something, though, and that is what I came here today to share with you.

Guess what? Here’s the big reveal. Get your phones ready or whatever. If a person can handle you having cancer, then they can, and if they can’t then they can’t! Ha! Pretty sage advice, right? Ok, ok, it’s actually pretty dumb and obvious but it taught me a very important thing. The bottom line is you can do a ton of things to try to mitigate your illness and its accompanying miseries when meeting someone but in the end, if that person is built to deal with it then they will, and if they aren’t then there’s nothing you can do to prevent them from bailing. End of story. Besides, would you even want them to stay if you had to make them? So, my friends, just remember, it’s out of your hands so get your freak on and don’t worry about the cancer. It’ll take care of itself, or it won’t. That best friend though… Talk soon.

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