Dating is hard in today’s world, but try dating with cancer. There are so many questions on how to bring up the subject of your diagnosis when meeting someone new. Questions like, should I tell them that I have cancer? How do I explain that I may not feel well sometimes and may not want anyone around? How does a young woman explain, “Oh by the way, I only have one boob?” How do I explain I am menopausal at 36 or that reconstruction is NOTHING like breast implants?
At the time of my diagnosis in November of 2015, I was fortunate enough to have a wonderful boyfriend by my side. We had started dating in July and he moved to live closer to me that October. When I was diagnosed the following month with breast cancer, I ended up quitting my job because I couldn’t afford the insurance they offered. I was able to get on medicaid while unemployed. Two weeks after my diagnosis, I had a mastectomy followed by chemotherapy, radiation and the removal of my ovaries and fallopian tubes. As a single mom, my boyfriend became our sole provider and he didn’t even live with us! The car payments, rent and bills for both of us really took a toll on our relationship. Not to mention the emotional toll from him having to provide me with confidence, strength and love all the time. He also had trouble understanding why I didn’t want to hang out, which was because of my treatment and not our relationship. We ended up taking a month apart to destress from our new relationship.
It was during our month apart that I performed an experiment to see what men really thought about dating a woman fighting breast cancer. I went undercover on the website Plenty of Fish using the name “Radioactive,” which seemed fitting since I was undergoing radiation at the time. I had four men reach out about dating me at once – so don’t give up hope ladies!!
Later, I returned to Plenty of Fish and did my own outreach. I messaged four men: a postman, an artist with no car, a factory worker with a harley and an engineer. Each returned my messages and even wanted to meet.
I found that the easiest way to date is to be honest. I didn’t hide my diagnosis. In fact, I threw it out there for the world to see! In my profile. I wrote about my breast cancer and that I was in-treatment and looking for a fresh start. Later on in my messages with the men, I told them about being menopausal with one boob and that I had no hair and eyebrows. Even my profile pictures were current showing that I was bald. I didn’t hide a thing and I was amazed with their responsiveness.
Remember, you really can date while fighting breast cancer. You deserve to have someone who loves you and treats you like the Queen that you are. Be strong and realize you have the right to happiness, ladies, more than anyone else. You need to throw yourself out there and give it a shot! I promise you have nothing to lose whatsoever and the problem will be you don’t like them, not the other way around.
This experiment helped me learn that the problem was never really mine in the first place. I decided against meeting the four men I was messaging on Plenty of Fish because I wasn’t over my ex-boyfriend. I realized there was no one on earth who understood me better. He’s my soulmate and I look forward to marrying him one day.
Do you have dating advice to others recently diagnosed with breast cancer? We’d love to hear it! Share your thoughts in the comments below.
For more tips on relationships and other important topics, download the free Newly Diagnosed Navigator!
You can also connect with other women currently in-treatment from the comfort of your home through YSC’s Online Video Support Groups, starting August 1st. Topics to be discussed include treatment sides effects, anxiety, depression, relationships and coping.
Don’t forget to keep the conversation going about dating on YSC’s Private Facebook Group, a safe space to build community with those who understand. You can talk to other survivors, ask questions, share articles and make connections!