Dating after breast cancer

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Ever since Carrie Bradshaw in Sex and the City first pondered the perils and pitfalls of dating in the modern world, acres of column inches have been given to the subject. But what if you are dealing with the after effects of breast cancer treatment? For some women, dating after breast cancer may present some special challenges. You may have issues around body image and intimacy. When do you tell a potential partner about your breast cancer? What about the issue of children – you may be left with the further challenge of infertility following treatment.

Linda Dackman was 34 when she had a mastectomy. She had no way to find help as a single woman looking for a relationship, wanting to know when and how to tell about her mastectomy and her disease. She wrote the book Up Front: Sex and the Post-Mastectomy Woman, a personal account of how she coped with these problems.

Each time she met someone new, Linda had to struggle with when and how to tell, and then how to behave in intimate situations. In the beginning, she would blurt out her history almost immediately, frightening herself and her date. Gradually she got to a point where she was able to wait till the third or fourth meeting, and discuss it without upsetting herself or her companion.

Finding a suitable partner is always a challenge, but there are enough success stories to keep up hope, to take action and make things happen. That was my own story. I called my former boyfriend for support when I received my breast cancer diagnosis. He held my hand through chemotherapy, hair loss, early menopause, my moods of black despair and finally the joyful day when we walked down the aisle together hand in hand on our wedding day.

You’ve got to do what any woman out to meet Mr./Ms. Right does, get out there and take your chance, just like everyone else. After all, you have so much to offer – you have overcome one of life’s biggest challenges and are wiser, stronger and more beautiful for it.

You can read Linda’s story and find out more advice on this and other topics at www. breastcancer.org,  from which part of this post was adapted.