Contributor: Rene Barrat-Gordon, Oncology Social Worker, Taussig Cancer Institute
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Dating comes with many challenges, let alone if you are battling cancer. It’s normal to have fears and concerns about dating or starting a new relationship, but having cancer should not stop you from taking a chance on a great relationship.
Some unique questions
Cancer patients or survivors often ask: Should I start to date again and when? How do I tell someone I am dating that I have cancer? What do I do if my partner doesn’t want to date me because I have cancer? How will cancer affect my moods or my physical body? Where can I meet someone? They may worry so much that they keep themselves from the friendship and companionship that dating can provide.
However, there are definitely special challenges involved in dating when you have cancer. Here are some things someone with cancer may need to do when starting a new relationship:
- Understand that cancer will affect you both physically and emotionally. There are unique challenges and struggles. These can include limited energy and fatigue, pain and emotional sensitivity.
- Seek support. Team up with your oncologist who can help answer questions or connect you with a social worker. Join support groups. At Cleveland Clinic, we have a program called 4th Angel Mentor Program that matches up cancer survivors with patients undergoing treatment. Be proactive in exploring what forms of support are available to you.
- Decide when is the right time to date and be encouraged that you can. Take time to recover from the cancer journey, and remember that the priority has to be you. Surround yourself with close friends and family, and you will know when you feel ready to date. Be true to your own feelings.
- Get out and be social. Try a new activity, hobby or take a fun class. These activities will help you meet new people and get comfortable being social while doing something you enjoy.
- When telling someone you are dating that you have cancer, be prepared. Take some time and practice what you want to say in advance. Then, determine a good time to tell your date. Talk to other cancer survivors who have started dating and are in strong relationships for support and advice.
- Be open. Don’t automatically think that your date will reject you once he or she finds out about your cancer. And remember that although it can be awkward and difficult, being open and honest with your new dating partner can often help relieve stress and anxiety.