Couple holding hands with hearts around them

Lung Cancer Patients’ Experiences on Marriages, Relationships, Dating and Sex (Part 2)

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 continuation of our conversation with RD. Read Part 1 where RD talks about the realities of having lung cancer while being single.

Starting a new relationship

A short time later, I met a man, and our first meeting I realized I liked him a lot. I told him at once (the first evening) that I had lung cancer. I was cancer-free but I was still at risk of recurrence and going to screenings and controls at the hospital every 6 months.

He was not scared about it at all. He liked me too and we decided to give the relationships a chance. I was anxious all the time before my cancer control but he always told me: "If you relapse, we might not have a long time together, but we will live it fully. We don’t have time to argue about small things it is not worth it."

My scar represents my strength

I was very afraid to be naked in front of him and to start a sexual relationship with him, as I have a huge scar of 40 cm on my body after my surgery. But I had to pass through this stage. And often at the beginning, he was caressing my scar with a finger and saying: "This is your life...it is thanks to this scar that you are still alive and we need to love it."

Starting our life toegther

Being married gives new opportunities but new issues occurred too. We wanted to buy a flat together but needed 2 incomes. What should we do? I applied for life insurance and was very nervous about getting it or not, and with an increased fee or not. But I got this life insurance, without an increased fee, and then we could move on with our lives and by this new flat.

Now we have been married for 12 years and we are still happy. That shows that you can have a good life even after a lung cancer diagnosis.

We both became lung cancer advocates

Eleven years ago I started as a lung cancer patient advocate since I wanted to help others who are living with the diagnosis too. At the same time, my husband started as a peer for caregivers.

We are often in touch with single persons wanting to have a relationship, but feeling it is difficult. We have a friend (living with lung cancer) that lost his wife some years ago and he is feeling lonely. I really would like to find someone for him to spend some time with, but as he says: "Who wants to take a chance on a lung cancer patient?" We had to tell him nobody knows how long we are going to live. Taking a chance to have a relationship with a lung cancer patient is the same as taking a chance with anyone. Then he started opening up, and you know what...he found someone (a lung cancer survivor) who was willing to take a chance on him. Unfortunately, they were not a match long term.

Anyway, this shows that even as lung cancer survivors we still have the opportunity to build new relationships. It is only a matter of trying and let go of our fears.

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