Dating and Cancer 101

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by Amy Atwood

SWF, Bald, Undergoing Chemo and Radiation…

Oh yeah, isn’t that the first profile you would click on if you were searching for the love of your life or even just a new ‘friend’ online? Dating in itself – or, I should say, finding someone to date – is never easy. Finding someone when you happen to be bald, going through chemo and/or making daily trips to the hospital for radiation makes it a zillion times more complicated. I know. I’ve tried it.

The author, with her long-hair wig.

The author, with her long-hair wig.

The most difficult thing for me about going through breast cancer treatment was doing it single. I have such an incredible, large, strong support network so I was hardly ever alone. My core team of my son, parents, and closest girlfriends would give me the evil eye any time I even hinted at going to an appointment by myself. But that didn’t prevent me from being lonely sometimes and longing for someone to hold me at night and whisper that everything was going to be alright. Or even just to take me to dinner and make me laugh and smile and forget about cancer for a little while.

Nearly everyone I encountered who had breast cancer – friends, people at the hospital, family, people in books and on TV – were either married or in a serious relationship when they were diagnosed. Not me. I was in the very vulnerable beginning months of a new relationship. And it, along with my hair and hopefully all the cancer cells, couldn’t survive the treatment. So not only did I not have someone to hold my hand every step of the way, I had to deal with a break-up as I tried to navigate the new-to-me world of cancer.

I tried to distract myself, but couldn’t help having Significant Other Envy every time I sat in a waiting room and saw a guy with his arm draped protectively around a woman with an IV. Then, on the morning of chemo round three, Dana-Farber posted a blog about dating during cancer treatment. The article gave me the push I needed to put myself back in the game. (Read the full post about this on my blog.)

I took pictures in different wigs, signed up for a free online dating site and posted my profile. Within minutes I had e-mails from men ready to shower me with attention. Of course, most weren’t exactly my type, but you need to kiss a lot of frogs to find your prince, right? (Figuratively speaking, of course!)

I had some really interesting e-mail exchanges, phone calls and dates (and some not so interesting…), but did not find the man of my dreams during treatment. Still, dating during treatment restored my self-confidence, reassured me that I was still attractive, and distracted me from the world of cancer.

It made me feel normal again.

There were many people who thought I was crazy for trying to fit in dating while going through treatment and working, others who worried I’d be hurt by insensitive men when they learned about my diagnosis, and many with every type of contradicting dating advice known to man. But the bottom line is you need to do what feels right to you. If you want to date, date. Don’t let cancer stop you! There was not one guy who ran away or changed his mind when I told him my situation. And sometimes dating is just what you need to escape cancer and feel like a regular girl again.

17 comments

  1. nancy covey says:

    kudos to you, though I battled with cancer, I would of never been brave enough for another challenge

  2. Richard says:

    Amy – The PMC page bounced me over to your blog. I was touched by this post. What a strong spirit and beautiful outlook you have in the face of an immensely scary disease. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  3. Brendan Gray says:

    Awesome Amy! PS- you look hot in that wig.

  4. John Dodge says:

    Keep fighting, Amy. And keep writing, too….

  5. Chris Shong says:

    The last paragraph is so true! Do what feels right! Make YOU happy! Best of luck Amy.
    I hope you kick cancers arse!

  6. Barbara Andrews says:

    You are so encouraging and truthful. After reading your article it made me appreciate and not worry about the small stuff in life. You gave me a very positive outlook about life in general. I hope you will continue to encourage others with your experiences. I have been fortunate not to have experienced cancer but you gave me such strength and appreciation to reach out to those who may need my support. Thank you.

    • Amy Atwood says:

      Oh Barbara, I am so glad you found it so encouraging! And I am especially glad you have been so fortunate, and are going to reach out to others – you have no idea how much people will appreciate that…

  7. Eva Bell says:

    World of cancer – True lines Amy Don’t let cancer stop you! Enjoy life’s single movement also, be happy always, life is very short, nobody knows what will happen next. God bless you! Be strong, with lovely smile :)

  8. Christopher Joseph says:

    You look beautiful ! I’d go out with you in a second , and would be proud to sit with you during any treatments you may have Togo thru! My thoughts and prayers are with you as you get better and return to your normal healthy self. Stay strong and keep your head up and feel free to message me anytime if you wanna chat take care.! ;-)

  9. Chris Lynch says:

    You are so beautiful and courageous. I have lost two sisters to cancer. My thoughts and prayers go out to you and your family. Stay strong!! If you need any motivation please feel free to email me. Take care of yourself.

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