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How did you tell someone ...

The first guy I dated post treatment nearly got in a car accident within the first 5 minutes of us going out and he jokingly said something something something "... it'd be like a cancer patient surviving and then getting hit by a bus." In which, I laughed at the irony and told him I was a survivor and that he nearly killed me.
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  • 37 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • cgarr71cgarr71 Community Member
    I had a similar occurrence. Just over a year ago I was playing my senior season of football out in east Texas and 3rd game in my bruising was getting ridiculous so my athletic trainer sent me to blood work. Well obviously it didn't come back good otherwise I would not be posting here. They thought it might have neen because I took a bad hit to my spleen in a game but either way my bone marrow was shutting down completely. Well I was crushed. I have played sports and football my whole life and got me through a rough childhood after losing my mom to brain cancer when I was 12. Without it I didn't to know what I was to do with myself. Fortunately me and my highschool sweetheart had gotten back together that semester and she really stepped up to the plate. She was there for me 24 hours a day and was more than I asked for. But I knew it freaked her out on the inside and I caught her crying a few times bit she would not open up to me at all. So she just bottled it up more and more. But time went on and we talked about eloping and marriage but I couldn't because I would lose coverage under my fathers insurance especially since it turned out I would have to have a BMT.

    Well six months and some change in and I was being admitted into the BMT section of MD Anderson and started this hard journey. She called me everyday atleast once. Usually between classes or on the way or back from school. And what helped me recover was the thought of when I get out I am going to ask her to marry me. And that's what drove me. Well I get out, but still have to live in Houston near the hospital for an extended period of time so she cant come down to often and make the trip. Well I was okay with that because she was in her last semester and taking some hard classes. Well my goal for total release was to be able to go see her graduate and was on course. Well I call her and she is acting weird about it. And she had been trying to pick fights with me kber the phone more and more. But I didn't have the energy for that. Then she asks would it be horrible of her to ask me not to come. Ouch. Well after talking to her and finally getting her to tell me why it was because she didn't want me to steal her thunder and because she thought I would hold her back from the graduation parties she wanted to go to. So I ended it right there. Maybe of was over dramatic but it wasn't. She had been forcing me to it for awhile. I had just been so tired I didn't have the heart nor energy for it. And then more so there is a really good chance the chemotherapy made me sterile and since they were in such a hurry they forgot to tell me to deposit to a sperm bank.

    But here is my point I guess. If its too much I would have understood. If it was something else fine. But to string me along and then treat me like garbage while I'm healing for us, until I do the dirty deed. Why couldn't she just be upfront with me? I guess I will never know.

    But that whole experience plus losing my athletic body to ravaged mush has destroyed all confidence I have in social interactions whether just friendships or more. Needless to say I have yet to go on a date since.
  • karleekarlee Community Member
    I finished treatment 4 years ago and still haven't managed to find an accepting guy. 3 weeks ago I had been on a few dates with a guy, and I had to tell him about it because I was going to be in the newspaper the next day talking about my cancer, so I thought I better tell him before he reads it in the paper.

    I said "Oh so I'm going to be in the paper tomorrow.. It's because I'm doing this fundraising for breast cancer, because I had breast cancer 4.5 years ago." I got a blank face at that. I said "well I had chemo, radiation and surgery, and I'm fine now." He said thanks for telling him, and a few minutes later he asked if I wanted to do something tomorrow. I said sure, I'll message you in the morning. When I texted him, he said could we take a raincheck because he had a headache. I said sure, fine, hope you feel better.. And I never heard from him again.

    I'm guessing he had a think about it and decided he was not ok with it. Obviously he's not a very good person, and definitely not the one for me, but it still hurts like hell!
  • I think the first couple of guys I didn't say anything at all. But I knew it wasn't anything that would go anywhere. My first serious boyfriend after my first diagnosis was totally supportive. I just sat him down and said "Hey, here's what's happened" and I just completely blurted it out. I did have a boyfriend that DUMPED me right after I was diagnosed with my second primary. I'm sure he was just scared, but man, did that ever kill what little self esteem I had left. Since then, I've been pretty upfront right away with everything, but when you just finish treatment I don't think there are many other options. Right now, I'm not sure if I would be as up front as I should be if I met a different guy, but I'm okay with where I'm at right now.
  • I haven't had a date to tell yet... Guys seem to disappear before that once they find out! I have a tendency to just say things when they come up in conversation...
  • I generally don't bring it up unless the relationship is getting serious, because I feel guilty leaving such an omission linger when I trust someone and they trust me. However I have had to explain it unplanned at times, I have a scar on my neck, radiation tracking dots (blue ones) that spread out along my neck and chest, a whole mess of scars on my back from when my hair was falling out and i managed to snag a fork to scratch myself, and a dent in my leg from Bleomycin injections. I'd rather tell people the truth if they notice and ask then to let their imagination come up with worse alternatives.
  • I have only told one guy and it totally got weird. I think it was too early in the relationship, but I am upfront about my cancer. One day, I'll find a guy that says, "Ok, cool. What do you want to do for dinner?" ;)
  • I think I have the same problem Hillary, I tell people to soon because I think it doesn't need to be such a big deal I have a hard time understanding that it is a really big deal to others... I hate feeling like I'm keeping secrets from people too!
  • Mishanne;627 said:
    I think I have the same problem Hillary, I tell people to soon because I think it doesn't need to be such a big deal I have a hard time understanding that it is a really big deal to others... I hate feeling like I'm keeping secrets from people too!

    Totally agree, I don't hide things! And I really don't think there is ever an "ideal" time to tell anyone about having cancer. For me, I also know that because I cannot have children that can be an issue for someone. I don't want to reach that point where I truly love and care for someone and get completely crushed because the no children is a deal breaker. I know I have options, and maybe that is a cop-out for someone, but if they are that way...I don't want to waste time on them either. :P
  • I've had mixed reactions when I would tell people I had cancer. I had people blow it off, like it's no big deal to someone actually comparing it to a really bad case of the flu. It seems like there is really no perfect time to actually bring it up, but their reaction definitely affects you despite how strong you are. It almost seems to chip away at your self esteem if they react negatively, but I definitely agree that you don't want to hide it. However, through all that I was fortunate to find someone in the end. :) I have also met other cancer survivor friends who have found other significant others that know about their cancer or have gone through it with them. So there is hope! <3
  • Now what do I do?

    When I was diagnosed I had been dating my boyfriend for just under a year. A month before the diagnosis he even asked me what kind of engagement ring I wanted. He was very helpful during the diagnosis, additional medical testing and the surgery recovery. Then, a few months into the chemo-therapy he tells me he would have broken up with me a long time ago if I had never become sick. He goes on to say that he's worried I'll get worse and he'll have to take care of me. He's worried our children would be at an increased risk. He's worried we'll build a life together and then I'll die and leave him alone with the kids. Keep in mind, I am in the middle of my chemo treatments.

    We saw a couples therapist and he seemed to have calmed down over all of this. He said he'd be happy to get engaged as soon as I had two clean post-chemo scans. I thought I had worked him through all of these issues when we saw the couples therapist, but six months later (exactly one year from the engagement ring conversation) he tells me again that he would have broken up with me a long time ago in addition to other very mean things.

    You might say it's easy enough to just end things and move on, but we had moved in to his house about six weeks before the diagnosis. Someone had a lease on my house and I couldn't just kick them out. In addition to this problem, in November I was fired from my job for having cancer. So when if I could move back into my house I can't now because I can't afford it. I can't sell it because it's worth just about $5,000 less than I owe on it thanks to my next door neighbor foreclosing on his identical home. So I am totally stuck.

    I don't know why I didn't think it was odd at the time, but I should have realized that anyone who does/could love you enough to marry you would/should NEVER say, "I'll give you a ring as soon as you have two clean scans." Does the term, "in sickness and in health" mean anything to you? Have you seen the statistic that one in two men and one in three women will get cancer at some point in their life? Being unemployed, homeless and newly in remission I am not exactly jumping into dating again but when I am ready I don't know how I will find someone with this major thing hanging in my past.
  • Maybe I shouldn't be responding since I am technically not single, but most days I sure feel like I am. I'm guessing if the news doesn't come out up front its just a set up for a world of hurt emotions and lost time down the road. My diagnosis also came to me during a serious relationship. Since then I lost my job and health insurance as well due to preventitive treatments. He doesn't seem to care about all that, but if its anything to do with cancer he shuts down. Anything even remotely related to me being diagnoised is off limits, including the subject of marriage, which he used to talk about frequently. I am being patient and trying to let him get used to it on his own terms, meanwhile attending all Dr visits that dont require a ride home by myself. I just saw your post lauren and its is the very thing I'm scared of happening. Right now I have a roomate instead of a boyfriend.
  • I was actually in a serious relationship myself when diagnosed- living with my boyfriend at the time but we were already having problems. Anyway, I actually ended up breaking up with him due to an epiphany that he would likely never learn to think about my needs or do anything for me, although he kept promising things would get better... He was also probably the most stressful needy person I've ever been with- so I figured I was better off on my own. I still talk to him and help him out as much as I can but no way am I going back! I really hope everything works out better for you Melissa and Lauren, because it's really no fun being on your own.
  • DMMDMM Community Member
    With my first cancer diagnosis (endometrial) the topic didn't faze too many guys. If it did, I kind of looked at as a good thing because it was just a good way to weed out those who would have been a waste of time. But there was one guy I was dating for a long while where things were getting more serious at one point...then problems started and it basically ended with him saying he didn't want to be with me because I couldn't carry his children, didn't want to go through a surrogate or adoption. Jerk...he knew that from day one...why spend all that time with me if that was going to be a problem in the end....he just said it to be mean. I haven't been on the dating scene since the second diagnosis....don't know if I will ever will.
  • I am right there with you all. I have this intense desire to tell a guy immediately and if I dont I have a huge sense of guilt about keeping something so big from him. In the past few years I have started to approach this whole dating/relationship thing in a few ways: either I tell the guy literally right off the bat (i.e. as in the first night of meeting him) either out of a sense that it isnt a big deal since Ive been living with the side effects of my cancer my entire life or out of sense of obligation that the guy should really know what he is getting into cause I dont want to waste anyone's time or I hide it as long as i can (which is difficult once you get initimate with me) and feel guilty that I am somehow tricking the guy.

    Having been born with the cancer and therefore always having to live with the side effects was something that prevented me from really understand their impact on my life, but as I grew up and got into intimate relationships I was forced to deal with them head on. Unfrotunately I havent had the best of luck in the past when it comes to having sustained, substantial relationships after disclosing my past and revealing the types of side effects I have that a guy may have to handle if he chooses to stay with me. I have had every reaction in the book - from the initial "its no big deal" turning into "holy shit i really cant deal with it" to the guy just bolting right then and there. It definitely remains a big struggle for me as I meander through the dating scene.
  • Erin Eloise;326 said:
    OMG! That's funny and awful all at the same time.

    I've only dated two people post-treatment, one of them being Kenny and he obviously knew I had cancer. But the other guy... I don't even remember how I told him. I think I just said something like, "Don't freak out, I have a giant scar across my boob because I had cancer. But I'm fine so don't worry. I hope you're not turned off by that." For me it was more of a concern sexually because people can freak out of something like that I guess. So I felt obligated to lay that on the table.
    image
    I am no longer afraid of mirrors
    where I see the sign of the amazon,
    the one who shoots arrows.
    There was a fine red line across my chest
    where a knife entered,
    but now a branch winds about the scar
    and travels from arm to heart.
    Green leaves cover the branch,
    grapes hang there
    and a bird appears.
    What grows in me now is vital
    and does not cause me harm.
    I think the bird is singing.
    I have relinquished some of the scars.
    I have designed my chest with the care
    given to an illuminated manuscript.
    I am no longer ashamed to make love.
    Love is a battle I can win.
    I have the body of a warrior
    who does not kill or wound.
    On the book of my body,
    I have permanently inscribed
    a tree.
    ~ Deena Metzger ~

    The picture above is shocking to some. To those of us who have been on a journey that has sometimes required the loss of physical parts of our selves, there may be nothing more beautiful than the photograph of and verse by Deena Metzger. After undergoing a mastectomy in 1977, Metzger created a life-affirming tattoo for her scar that turned "damage to beauty" and shared her healing vision with the world through this powerful image. (Click on the link below and then on "Tree Poster" to order a poster or postcard of this photograph and verse.)

    Ancient legend tells of the powerful Amazons, a race of one-breasted female warriors. These fierce fighting women, known for their skill as archers, underwent voluntary mastectomies so their breasts would not interfere with their aim. Their very survival depended upon the radical surgery.

    Legend also tells of the Scythian culture in which women were expected to fight alongside the men. A mastectomy of the right breast was performed on female infants to prevent weakening of the pectoral muscle on that side. This ensured the girls would be able to brandish a sword
    with power and skill.

    Scholars debate whether there is any truth behind these popular stories, but - true or not - the tales provide us with a thought-provoking way in which to reframe the way we view our scars and other physical damage to our bodies wrought by disease, injury or condition.

    As we age, our faces and bodies naturally develop lines and wrinkles in addition to the scars that result from accidents and surgeries. Instead of fighting the lines and wrinkles with cosmetic surgeries and hiding our battle scars as if they are shameful or embarrassing, why not look at them as evidence of the rich collection of experiences that have shaped our characters over time and made us
    who we are today?

    Each of us is a miracle, and each of us is a masterpiece of the Creator. One-of-a-kind. No two alike. A singular work of art full of power and promise.

    Your scars are the brushstrokes
    in the masterpiece that is your life.

    Spirit, help me to remember that I am Your creation and that everything You have created
    is perfect and beautiful.
    Amen
  • I have not yet had to tell any boyfriend since i was diagnosed after I stopped dating a guy (from about a year ago).

    Now I am stymied - again like others mentioned, I would have to say at some point because I would not be able to have children. And altho it isnt done yet, one masectomy and probably two are unfortunately in my immediate future.

    I'm scared about having someone split when i tell them, because i already have self-confidence issues about all this. Of course everyone says "well then he wasnt the guy for you anyway" but that doesnt help that first nasty sting of rejection because you aren't 'perfect' anymore....
  • ZharZhar Community Member
    ....about not being perfect anymore...
    I was diagnosed with my cancer when I was 31. I am almost 34 now. But long before I ever had to deal with cancer... let me tell you about my journey with physical insecurity. When I was a teenager, I was chunkier than most of the other girls. Big and strong, but chunky. Does feeling overweight and hating yourself for it have anything in common with coping with physical disfigurations that cancer treatment might bring? Perhaps not, but don't hate me for bringing up the comparison.. I'm allowed to cuz I had cancer too (heh)..
    Okay so there are physical aspects we can hate about ourselves. I think that coming to accept physical imperfections gets easier as you get older.. cuz guess what.. everyone you knew that used to be perfect sure ain't now either.. Life changes people and it is not for the worse despite what we may think.. physical changes happen to women after having children.. are they any less perfect? Depends what you are comparing to.. are you still believing what you see in magazines? Feeling good can be synonymous with looking good.. and it goes both ways. I look back at pictures of myself when I was a teenager... 'chunky'... well i was a lot thinner then than I am now.. and I'm the thin one compared with some of the people I used to know.. heh... Could it be that it's all just relative? If it's not cancer, it's probably something else we find to hate about ourselves. I have other ugly physical things unrelated to cancer but just as uck.. but I'll spare you from the details except for one last one below.
    The point of saying all this? I don't know one person who is 'perfect'.

    Here's another story: When I was 17, I was in a car accident and broke a windshield with my face. Got a gash from the edge of my mouth to a couple inches from my ear. Stitches? 3. Put in by my family doctor to 'hold me' until I got to the plastic surgeon the next day. The next day, the plastic surgeon refused to touch it 'cuz 'too much time had passed since the injury'. So I was left with an 'outtie' hamburger scar on my cheek that turned into a thick reddish scar. One of my friends said it looked like I had 2 mouths.. (yes, he was trying hard to be funny and yes I am still friends with him). Try being a 17 year old girl with a big nasty scar on your face, and be pretty. Good luck. Perfection wasn't ever even an option, and it was nothing I could ever hide.

    Ironically, my cancer scars are mostly on the inside of me and I never 'looked' like I had cancer, but I've always had to deal with 'the uglies'.

    The story gets better from there. Some people think i'm pretty. The scars are all still there and my eyebrows grow funny too because of all the little peripheral scars. Some people I've met in my life have told me that I'm more 'memorable' because of the scar.. maybe they were just being nice. Regardless, the physical imperfections I carry are part of me now, and sometimes I can agree that scars are the mark of a warrior, and sometimes I wish it wasn't this way. Can't change it, but time has helped me to get over it. I am still the same person.
    Hope this helps...
  • I was diagnosed with cancer a little less than a month ago. I still have it...am scheduled for surgery on March 30th... I am at the stage where I have no idea what stage the cancer is or if it spread and if so just to lymph nodes? bones? lungs? No clue...but I have this boy..I told him I have cancer and he is still asking me out on dates...I haven't said yes to any yet. I mean I am going in for surgery very soon..will he still want to go on a date with me when my neck looks like someone tried to slash it...or when I am radioactive...or when I feel like I'm going crazy while my endocrinologist tries to figure out the proper dose of replacement hormones.
  • I didn't have to say anything at all...as soon as I saw my boyfriend I burst into tears and just fell into his arms...he got the gyst.
  • nicolegnicoleg Community Member
    thats my biggest fear too... I have ovarian & uterine and cant have children either... I am crushed and still have such a hard time with it... I am scared that I'll have the same problem and when do you even bring that up...
  • AKramerAKramer Community Member
    I don't feel the need to tell someone unless I think it might go somewhere. Or if I feel that they are just going to be a friend, I'm cool with telling them. The weirdest question I ever got from someone I told was "Does cancer hurt?" Which I thought was kind of odd, but when you haven't been through it, I guess almost any question is fair game.
  • AKramer;2649 said:
    The weirdest question I ever got from someone I told was "Does cancer hurt?"

    Hahaha, I get concerned people asking how I feel all the time like you'd ask someone with the flu- the funny thing is I never felt sick because the melanoma didn't hurt at all and I just had surgery which made me sore, but nothing to make me feel sick!
  • I just wanted to thank you all for making me tear up a little bit over here. I hadn't even been married for two years when I got my diagnosis. I was laid off about six months before that (so we had no health insurance) and my wife and I had taken to fighting quite a bit. Then when I came home from the doctor's, everything relationship-wise was magically fixed. For a little while.

    As treatment wore down we started fighting again, largely due to me having a shorter fuse, though it's fair to suggest that my wife has issues of her own too.

    Long story short, she moved out on me on Jan 1st of this year, largely on the advice she received from newfound friends she met at NA meetings. (Pot use, don't get me started.) So now I'm going to have to confront my one cancer fear that I didn't think was ever going to be an issue. Sure, the abdomen scar may be healing, but at the time there was no need whatsoever for a prosthetic testicle.

    I have no idea how that's going to go over.
  • So I met this guy on Sunday and we've been texting quite a bit. I don't think anything "romantic" will happen, we'll probably end up just being friends. He's been quite open about his life-divorced twice, his last wife cheating on him and getting excommunicated from church.... But I still haven't told him about my cancer. I told him I've been sick, but he has yet to inquire about the nature of the sickness.... I'm the type who doesn't mind telling people stuff, but now that I am faced with people who don't already know about my cancer, I am finding perhaps that I don't want people to know right off the bat. I am perfectly healthy and aside from my 14 in. scar, you wouldn't have ever been able to tell!! :)
  • melissamelissa Community Member
    I am torn between telling the new people i meet and just keeping my mouth shut. My strange "hairstyle" gets alot of questions tho. We just moved to a new town and pretty much noone knows us, so that makes it a little easier to keep my "secret". i have found that people treat me soooo much differently when they find out. Its like all of a sudden i tuen into porcelein or something. I automatically become weak and slow and.....disabled. I don't like it one bit. So i try and keep my mouth shut unless someone asks me specifically.
  • melissa;3835 said:
    i have found that people treat me soooo much differently when they find out. Its like all of a sudden i tuen into porcelein or something. I automatically become weak and slow and.....disabled. I don't like it one bit. So i try and keep my mouth shut unless someone asks me specifically.

    my favorite is that look that everyone gets after you tell them... drives me nuts. Like you said.. we automatically change into some weak being they need to feel sorry for. I actually still live in the same town I grew up in, but only a few people know I've had cancer because I cannot stand that look. Also, my absolute favorite is when I tell someone I had cancer.. and then they begin to tell me about their aunt or grandma or someone who died of cancer. Yes, please tell me about someone who has died of cancer. thank you. exactly what I want to hear about. I just rather not tell people lol As for telling guys... if I ever get hit on I'll let you know. my love life is seriously a joke. lol
  • Julie Cecys;3881 said:
    As for telling guys... if I ever get hit on I'll let you know. my love life is seriously a joke. lol
    Not buying it. Too cute for that.
  • aww thanks Jason you made my night :)

    well now this is awkward.. I should probably just tell you right off the bat... I had cancer. Hope that doesn't freak you out. haha ;)
  • Hahaha. Nice one. And no problem, anytime I can make someone smile is worth playing the fool for a bit :)
  • when i was diagnosed in november 2010 i was begining my senior year of high school. that was hell on earth. all my chances of getting a guy to like me was completly gone. the looks that kids were giving the bald chick were heart breaking... even tho my hair is slowly coming back (only peach fuzz at this point) i dont think i can find someone who will actually understand and not be afraid of what the cancer did to me and actually see past it and get to know the me underneith