Lung Cancer Patients’ Experiences on Marriages, Relationships, Dating and Sex (Part 3)

Editor’s Note: This article discusses relationship abuse and suicidal thoughts. If you or a loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please text or call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK or visit their website.

Early this month I invited ladies from Norway, England, Singapore, USA, and Canada on a Zoom call to talk about their experiences with marriage, relationships, dating, and sex after lung cancer. I admire these ladies for being so open to speaking about their experiences. They are truly inspirational.

Below is a conversation with PH, who was diagnosed with lung cancer at 35.

This is PH's story...

I am 38 years old. I am a single mom of two college students whose father committed suicide two weeks before my diagnosis. I was diagnosed with stage 4 ALK+ lung cancer on July 3, 2017, at the age of 35, three days after I graduated from residency as an OBGYN. At the time, I was engaged.

While my fiancé was initially supportive, he quickly became angry, controlling, and manipulative as I was so sick. I couldn’t start the job I had signed a contract for and had no income. As time wore on, I progressed to the point where I was almost non-functional. Either he did not understand what was going on or he was in denial, nonetheless, he became emotionally and verbally abusive.

Sex was non-existent as he had long-standing sex issues, although he was even more sexually distant when I was sick. In the end, he blamed me for being “difficult” to live with while I was struggling with cancer and could not provide a dual income to help support his daughter. My family helped me to leave him and move back to my family’s home in San Francisco.

What does dating look like now?

I was in the midst of my transition from Alectinib to Lorlatinib at that time. I gradually recovered somewhat to where I felt like I was almost a normal person again. At that point, I was unemployed and suddenly had no partner which was quite terrifying. I gingerly started online dating but had minimal success.

At the advice of a male friend from the ALK group on Facebook, I signed up for the “Tinder” app which is widely known for being a “hook up” app. I subsequently learned that it is a platform for anyone looking for any type of interaction so it is a grab bag of characters wanting the spectrum from hookups all the way to long term relationships/life partners.

My first relationship was not what I expected

From Tinder, there were two significant interactions that both highlighted how having cancer drastically changed how desirable I was to be anything more than a hookup. At baseline before cancer, I considered myself a catch: I am highly educated, smart, a doctor who would have had a significant salary if I could have started my job, and to boost I’m pretty cute to say so myself.

The first person I met was a hookup and I told him that I was not working due to a health condition. After we slept together he proceeded to start asking me out, and said he would stay the night which suddenly disarmed me, I told him the truth. He quickly packed up and left. We saw each other again but it was clear he only considered me for sex after I told him about my lung cancer.

Read Lung Cancer Patients’ Experiences on Marriages, Relationships, Dating and Sex (Part 4) - coming soon.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy. We never sell or share your email address.

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.

Join the conversation

or create an account to comment.