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Dating with the Big C

My day started out innocently enough…beautiful Virginia fall day, crystal blue skies, wispy clouds, the ever-present hum of the jets on patrol that are so comforting. I was wearing a cute sundress and strappy heels. I had every expectation that I would go to the ER, (at my boss’ “request”) get a quick x-ray (normal as always) and be along my merry way. It was Saturday and I had big plans later in the day.

Who could have imagined what was coming…right?

Dating with lung cancer

I say all that to set the stage for the topic I really want to talk about today. How does one manage to date with this kind of diagnosis? Up until my diagnosis, I was a normal, socially active girl. Great career. I dated a lot. I have a huge network of friends. I STILL have my great network of friends, but I am genuinely uncomfortable when I get asked out for dates.

Right now, those who meet me would NEVER guess that I have been through what NSCLC has put me though. I see and feel its effects every single day. To the outside, I seem “normal”. Happy. Outgoing. And so I am generally.

When do I bring it up?

How much is too much to tell a date? Do I say it directly when I’m asked out…”Hey, I really appreciate the offer but I have stage 3a lung cancer…so there’s that”. Do I not say anything at all?

So far I have dealt with this directly. When someone new asks me out, somewhere in the conversation I let it be known that I have this diagnosis. I’m light…I don’t overdo in on the details unless they ask me. I have found most men to be very cool with the news. But I am sincerely worried for the day when I perhaps develop really deep feelings for someone, and they decide they can’t handle my diagnosis…where does one go from there?

Reality of love

Is it EVER right to ask someone to sign on to what this diagnosis really means? I mean, in a sunshine, rainbow, and butterfly world love conquers all, but…this is reality. It is a really tough question that really calls on my personal ethics.

Thanks so much for allowing me to share.
-Moira C

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Cindy_52
    11 months ago

    Hi Moira! Wow, I can relate to so much of what you’re going through. I was diagnosed in May of last year with SCLC that had mets to the brain. They were able to surgically remove the tumor easily from my brain, I had one time gamma knife radiation, and have brain scans every 3 months. I still have the 3 lung nodules which I’ve been going through chemo for since June, and have regular scans for those as well.

    My boyfriend of 10 years and I had broken up in January of last year. We kept in touch somewhat…After my diagnosis, with a life expectancy of 2 years, I was feeling damaged, and thought nobody would ever want me. I got to the point where I tried to get back together with my ex!! The only reason I did that was because it was familiar, and he knew me so well, and quite frankly, who would want to date me?? Well, he had found someone else, so there I was thinking I would never have male companionship again.

    I ended up joining a dating site…my theory was to chat with them for awhile, and then if they asked for my phone number, or asked to go on a date, I would tell them I have lung cancer. I don’t want to waste my time or anyone elses by not saying anything before going out. Surprisingly most men are ok with it….

    I like you, was a hard working individual, who was very social and active. I am now on disability, and much less active. I’m still social with my network of friends, but it’s pared down now..maybe lunch or something. It’s hard that the new people I meet, don’t know the person I was before my diagnosis…I agree with you that we look normal on the outside, but have so much going on inside that people can’t see…The chemo I was on last summer was awful…my oncologist switched it in Oct, and i’ve been doing really well!

    I ended up meeting a very nice man a couple weeks ago, so i’m hoping it all works out. He’s very understanding and accepting. He fulfills all the things I missed about being in a relationship. I do however think i’m being selfish sometimes as I know my prognosis isn’t good. At the same time though, I was upfront from the beginning, so feel it’s their choice if they want to become a part of my life…even if it is limited.

    I wish you the best with everything!

  • Margot moderator
    11 months ago

    Thank you so much for sharing @Cindy_52! Hope it works out too – please do keep us updated. Thinking of you! Warmly, Margot, Team

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