Cancer and Dating.

Hi all...I just needed some advice. How did you guys decide it was the right time to start dating again and go about it?
I am a male of 25 years old and Ive been treated for a hormone secreting Neuroendocrine Tumor for about two years. I was somewhat shocked when I found out and retreated from anything to do with romantic relationships. Lately, Ive kind of been thinking about getting back out into the dating world. Guess as I feel a little better Im noticing my friends dating more and feeling lonely in that regard. I just feel kinda awkward and weird about it though. Its been so long and I avoided stuff that it feels foreign and like I'll be awkward. Plus, I still have issues with "intimacy" from the chemo/hormone meds I am on. I have embarrassing skin changes (acanthosis nigricans) in some intimate areas. And I have some major fatigue/mental cloudy issues at times from medicines that make me self conscious about whether I seem zoned out. Im actually in school and my friends have suggested pursuing some relationships but I keep freezing and feeling like I'll be an awkward mess because I know about the weird different things about my body now.
I have a great group of friends and I think they could help in the transition to getting back into the dating world. Problem is I feel incredibly weird about talking to them about the reasons Ive avoided dating and feel weird about getting into a relationship. Im known as the goofy and talkative person who just freezes up when talking to girls, complete 180 from how I was before treatment. I guess part of me feels different about my body so Im worried my friends will think differently of me if I explain my situation and ask for their help in dipping my toes into the dating world again. And that girls my age would be a little freaked out by my situation at the moment. Or I'll be an awkward mess on the first date. Ive relied on my friends for support through this journey a lot, without ever really talking about anything- just kinda rely on them for emotional support without saying I need it.


  • 16 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
  • I'd say live life to the fullest.
  • Start slow and try to give yourself a break. You've been through a lot. Try just hanging out and getting to know people. Don't feel that you need to fall into something serious right away, let someone earn your trust. I have body issues as well caused by the damage cancer has done to my body, but most people are insecure about something with their body. There are really kind loving people out there that will accept you as you are. I've been amazed by how accepting women can be when it comes to these issues. Dating is awkward for everyone and again I know women who like awkward guys. Sometimes being awkward puts women at ease because they might be shy or awkward. I'm not trying to sound like I have all the answers, I have been single for a couple year as well and have had trouble getting back into the dating pool. Maybe regular dating is too high pressure for you now. Try starting a casual conversation with a woman in class that you find interesting. After talking a while (in person or through text/email) see if she wants to get coffee. If you feel comfortable be honest and let her know that you are just getting back into things. You don't have to tell her anything about your cancer until you feel comfortable, you don't have to give her your life story all at once. I hope this makes sense. Good luck.
  • Ajh9113Ajh9113 Community Member
    I hear you with the dating world...I am 26 and I don't reallly look like I had cancer from my outside appearance anymore but I am having a hard time dating again. I was dating someone for a few months and he blindsiding me by saying I am ugly with my short hair and he didn't want to be with someone who couldn't have their own child. It lowered my self esteem. I worry about how guys will react to my scars and stretch marks...I was on steroids for my cancer that I gained 70 pounds then lost it all when I got sick.

    I feel like my lack of confidence because of the cancer is not making me myself and when I put myself out there on online dating apps they say sorry I am not interested :( it definitely hurts
  • LBQuinnLBQuinn Community Member
    That guy that criticized your hair and womb does not deserve you, @Ajh9113 . You have frickin' survived cancer -- what has he ever done? What huge obstacle has he faced? I'm maybe not the best person to speak to this topic because I was dating someone when I was diagnosed and he stuck around. I did go through a lot of physical changes and major libido issues. I had a huge seeping and bleeding tumor like a third boob. I also gained a lot of weight with steroids and dropped down to barely over 100lbs from treatment. (then back up another 45lbs) I went through premature menopause, which made sex super painful. I have permanent hair loss and hearing loss, which makes me super awkward socially.

    But the guy I was dating stuck around. He doesn't think it was such a big deal that I can't have children now. And he puts up with all the other bullshit cancer drops on us. And there are people that can handle all of that and there are people that can't. When people say they aren't interested on dating apps or in person, that's just an indication that they are not the kind of people that can handle it. That's you're way of eliminating them, not the other way around.

    I may not be able to speak much to dating, but I can speak to dealing with libido issues with a partner and knowing how hard it is to talk about. I do know that communication is extremely important and so is an open mind. Most girls don't care about boners as much as guys think they do. There are ways to be intimate when you can't get an erection or your vagina becomes unwelcoming.
  • rsh37rsh37 Community Member
    I'm terrified to start dating again. I'm 32 years old. I now have a giant scar down the front of my body that I'm not very self conscious about, but know I'd have to explain. And have some other not fun, lingering side effects. I don't know at what point you tell someone what you have been through. At what point do I tell someone I can't have children? I don't want pity. I already hated dating so this makes it so much harder.
  • rsh37: You have to feel it out. You have every right to wait as long as you need to tell someone. I recently started dating a woman, my first gf in more than 2 years. She has been really wonderful about it and actually sees my fight with cancer as a sign of my strength. Dating is scary and rejection is terrifying especially if it's related to cancer. I found that thinking of my struggle with cancer as a sign of my resilience helps others perceive the whole thing more positively. Define what cancer means to you, I know that is NOT easy. Then think about how you want to discuss it with others. I would recommend focusing on getting to know the person and feeling out whether they would be able to handle it. In a way our disease is a good test to see who is willing to accept us and who is a total lame-o. I hope this helps, please shoot me a message if you want to discuss this more.
  • LBQuinnLBQuinn Community Member
    I agree with xoldcorex. One of the perks of cancer is that it truly weeds out people who aren't good enough for you. It's a good litmus test. You don't want to be with someone who can't handle tough situations. What would they be like down the road? What if other challenges arise?
    As far as when to tell someone - that's tough. I don't think there is any one right answer. I would say, perhaps when you feel like they deserve to know. Or when you feel comfortable.
    I can't have kids either (remember, though, that doesn't mean you can't be a parent). Again, when it's the right person, it won't be a big deal. And if it is, that person probably isn't the right one.
  • I'm going through the same thing, and I have a neuroendocrine cancer too! Stage 4 paraganglioma. I'm not in school anymore so it's hard to meet people. I don't know if I'm exactly qualified to give advice on the subject but just be confident in your character because that's what matters! Anyone who's been through cancer has tremendous strength, humility, and gratitude, and those are some pretty great qualities to have in a partner. Don't sell yourself short:)
  • As soon as you say anything about cancer everyone seems to run
  • OryHOryH Community Member
    I'm out of ideas and need another perspective. I realize disease is a big thing to drop into someones lap but I see people on here that have had success. For the past ten years I have had autoimmune liver disease and Crohns. At that point it was manageable. Then two years ago I contracted west nile which ultimately resulted in liver cancer. I stopped dating at that point. I thought "I'll wait till I get better" which hasn't happened. The only reason I would even think of dating is because if the scenario was flipped I could date someone with a serious illness. I guess my question is how do you guys even approach this?
  • Q4lifeQ4life Community Member
    LBQuinn thank you for those words. I feel the same. This is a rant. Enjoy

    I have been ghosted. Asked some really stupid questions like did you lose all your hair, even down there? Let me see what you liked like before. It’s a turn off being approached like this. I don’t look sick because I gained weight with treatment which all doctors seem to praise. I don’t feel like myself, let alone attractive. I feel like a female eunuch or like a medically forced transsexual.

    I started tapping. It helps to alleviate stress. I tap & say to myself even though I am feeling ____ or experiencing _____ I love & accept myself exactly as I am. I am getting more clear as to who I want to date because I’m treating myself better. For me I am giving myself what I want from another. Right now I’m taking care of myself without abandoning myself for the love of another.

    I stopped beating myself up. I talk to myself like someone I love. Also my libido is gone which changes that hormonal trance of attraction. So in this moment the companionship means more than the hook up or like transaction. It would be nice to have a site or speed date for single cancer survivors.

    Any illness will trigger fight, flight or nurturing response vs obligation of care in others. I want to be more than a label of cancer which is difficult when you have scars, a medical history & no sex drive. Even more with a person who has none of your experiences. So I say it will be is creating this new space of dating with cancer with every experience we generate.
  • LBQuinnLBQuinn Community Member
    @Q4life - Yes! It's so important to practice self-care and be your own fulfillment. Also, it's cool that you found something that helps with stress. I write (not always well), but it helps me to put what I'm feeling on a page and out of my head.

    There should be more social functions, at least, for young adults with cancer (where cancer survivors could also bring friends who aren't scared off or ignorant about people who have cancer). There's a group in Chicago (where I live) that gets together for strictly socializing. I think that's a big step. Also, places like StupidCancer's CancerCon (and regional events) are great places to meet other (potentially single) survivors and supportive young adults. Or at least new friends that simply understand.
  • Ajh9113, I’m single and looking for someone who understands what it’s like. You and I might not live in the same area, but at this point I’m really looking for someone who will understand me. So if you are interested I will meet you where ever you are even if it’s another state than California.

    I had radiation as a child and lost a good portion of my hair and still have bald spots.
  • To all the woman on this site that are looking for a guy in his late 20’s, I’m desperate and will come to you. Evwryone around here knows my story and no girl seems to want me based off what I have shared.
  • Rsh37 I know how you feel. I have klinefelter syndrome. It will be harder for me to have kids.
  • AndonigolferAndonigolfer Community Member
    edited June 28 Vote Up0Vote Down
    Rsh37 if you are interested in meeting or talking through this site i am.

Leave a Comment