Dating with Cancer: When Do You Share Your Diagnosis?
By Tracy Maxwell
“At what point in a new relationship is it appropriate to reveal your status as a cancer survivor?”
If you have ever wondered what the right answer to this question is, you’re not alone. Many survivors ask the same thing when dating after cancer or during treatment.
Personally, I never have trouble revealing my cancer status to new friends or even total strangers. It just seems to come out, and it’s not something I have anxiety about anymore. But other cancer survivors insist it’s better to wait until you know there’s a future before sharing. There’s no point putting yourself out there that way if there’s not a future.
My favorite advice comes from a cancer survivor named Tamika. She says to share with someone only when they are worthy of knowing: When you know you like them enough to see a possibility, but before things get too serious and they feel like you withheld something important from them.
As you can see, advice varies. Below are a couple of personal stories that might help you decide when to disclose your diagnosis to a potential romantic partner.
Stories from Survivors: Dating after Cancer
• Lesley, a breast cancer survivor from Colorado, said she was pursued during treatment even when she didn’t have hair. “Oddly enough, I gained a self-confidence I didn’t have before,” she said. “Considering I run a non-profit to empower and support other women, it usually comes up pretty fast.” Lesley is currently engaged to a man who loves her and supports her work with the Pink Elephant Posse, an organization that finds young women affected by cancer and puts them in the spotlight so their stories can be heard.
• Collin, a 27-year-old testicular cancer survivor from Chicago said, “It usually comes up naturally when I talk about my volunteer work with Imerman Angels in the first three to four dates. If it doesn’t,” he says, “then it is around our first sexual experience when I have to explain the prosthetic testicle.”
• Jasan, a three-time cancer survivor, had a bad experience with one woman to whom he disclosed his cancer history, which he said made him more nervous about his reveal afterward. Jasan is married now. He met his wife Jen online and they dated for nearly two years before getting engaged. Even though her mom died when she was 13 and her dad is a cancer survivor, Jen says cancer isn’t going to make her not want to be with someone.
Seeing Both Sides
By the time I had at least two to three inches of hair back, I decided I looked normal enough not to have to deal with questions on the first date, and I put myself out there.