Prior to the start of treatment, I was lucky enough to go on one last trip with my mom, to Greece. We planned to meet there during my school break in Rwanda but since cancer threw us a curveball, we had to rearrange some things and leave from the US together instead. The timing worked out just right so that it wouldn’t delay treatment, and we were grateful for the final escape before it all got very real.
One of my best friends happened to be volunteering with refugees on Lesvos island at the time, and took a trip to Athens so we could see each other. I vividly remember one evening when we were sitting at our hotel rooftop bar, at a little table, looking out over the lit up Acropolis. I was pondering what the next year of my life would look like and exasperated, “who is going to want to date someone with cancer?” Yes, even with cancer, my 25 year old self continued to worry about my dating prospects…typical.
Little did I know, just a couple weeks later I’d meet the love of my life and cancer would not deter him, despite my own hesitation. There is no guidebook to dating with cancer. I had no idea what to expect with treatment and I was apprehensive about trying to navigate a relationship at the same time. However, from the first date onward, I knew he was along for the ride and would respect whatever I felt I needed at the time.
Within the first few weeks, I warned him that I may have trouble getting pregnant after chemo and I just wanted him to be aware of that up front. It sounds a bit absurd bringing that up so early on but I knew my situation and if he absolutely knew he wanted biological children, then it was something worth considering.
I also leaned on him the only time I freaked out, while looking at statistics and trying to determine which surgery to get. Apart from that, he saw all my side effects and I never hid anything from him. Quite frankly, I didn’t have the energy to so he was either going to stick around or not, and that was that. I got lucky because he handled everything like an absolute champ. He made every effort to focus on the positives despite how gross and unwell I sometimes felt.
Dating with cancer isn’t the sexiest of situations but if you find the right person, it is absolutely worthwhile to take the leap of faith. I cannot imagine having gone through everything without him by my side, even if just as a beautiful distraction from the realities of cancer.
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