Jess has Waldenström macroglobulinaemia, a rare chronic blood cancer. She shares her thoughts on online dating with cancer.
1. Think about whether you’re emotionally ready
There’s always a risk of rejection with online dating so you need to be prepared for that.
2. Make sure you have a great profile
Get your friends to help with your profile as they know best what makes you awesome.
3. Set aside time to trawl through profiles and be proactive
Message the interesting ones. Then forget about it and go and do something else.
4. Don’t spend too long chatting online
The quicker you meet up, the quicker you’ll find out if you actually fancy them.
5. Make sure you choose where to meet
This is particularly important if you have fatigue or other symptoms. I usually suggest a drink or coffee, so I can sit down.
6. Tell them about the cancer as soon as it feels right
As a rule, no later than about six dates. Honesty is usually the best policy, but don’t feel you have to mention it on the first date unless the conversation goes there and you feel comfortable about it. People are usually cool with it, but if they’re not, they’re not worth bothering with!
7. At the end of the date, make it clear where you stand
I might say either, “I really like you and would love to see you again”, or “It’s been lovely meeting you but I don’t think the chemistry is there.” Texting them afterwards is also fine if you’re not feeling that brave! Next!
8. Having cancer means you know who you are and what’s important in life
Remember that your date is lucky to meet you!
9. Have regular breaks from dating to avoid burnout
Dating takes both emotional and physical energy.
10. Most of all, have fun
It will either be a great date, or a funny story!
Jess volunteers for Shine Cancer Support, who support younger people with a cancer diagnosis. If you’d like to hear more from Jess about dating with cancer, listen to Shine Cancer Support’s podcast Not Your Grandma’s Cancer Show. You can follow her on Instagram @chroniccancercrip
Ellie was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma when she was 15. She’s been in remission for eight years. Here are her thoughts on when to open up to your date about cancer.
Honesty is the best policy
The decision to tell a date about cancer depends a lot on your situation – how recent your diagnosis is, what your overall prognosis looks like, and what you’re aiming for from a date. But I’d say it’s important to be honest.
It’s a bit of cliché but true – a partner should accept you for who you are, and if cancer is part of the package that makes up ‘you’, then that’s non-negotiable. Something as big as cancer can’t stay hidden for long, so you might as well be upfront about it, and proud of what you’ve been through and how it’s changed you.
When you first take the plunge and get back into dating, you might not feel like sharing too much. You could worry that your date will be put off or just see the cancer, not the person. But remember that having cancer means you get to know things about yourself your pre-cancer self would never have delved into. That can give you more insight into your personality and how you communicate, and the confidence not to sweat the small stuff.
What if they react badly?
If things have been going well, but when you tell them about your cancer your date takes it badly, give them a chance. Maybe they’ve had their own negative experiences with illness. Maybe they’re also a survivor but don’t like to bring it up. Maybe they’ve never actually met someone who’s had cancer. Should they show sympathy, gloss over it, say something uplifting?
There’s no rulebook for reacting to someone’s cancer news. Encourage them to ask questions and explain how you are now. But if they have trouble getting their head around it, then they’re probably not the right match for you. You could say cancer helps filter out the timewasters. And if the date doesn’t go well, at least you’ve got a good story for your bad dates diary!