The dating scene can be daunting for any single woman, but for a single woman battling breast cancer, it can be downright intimidating. Is the first date too soon to bring up the subject of breast cancer? What exactly should you say? How do you tell him you may lose your hair and that you have already lost a breast? And what do you do if the guy doesn’t handle the news very well? Here are some answers and suggestions to guide you as you consider new relationships.
When is the right time to talk with a date about breast cancer?
This is a communication issue and an intimacy issue. You don't want to scare off a potential partner by discussing your breast cancer history immediately. But letting it go unmentioned for too long isn't fair either. Wait until you've developed a sense of trust with the other person and the two of you share some mutual feelings for one another. If you are comfortable enough to be vulnerable with him, then it’s time to share that information.
How will I find the right words?
This might seem difficult. However, practicing what you are going to say ahead of time will help smooth the way. That’s right, rehearse. Talk to yourself in the mirror if your prefer, or ask a close friend or family member to role-play with you. In one scenario, use the words you dread hearing the most and play it out. This gives you an opportunity to explore various responses. Once you've gathered your thoughts, practice your speech with your friend and ask for feedback. Then go for it!
How will he react when he finds out I'm losing my hair due to chemotherapy?
Breast cancer and chemotherapy have definitely come out of the closet. Most potential partners have someone close in their life who has suffered the disease. While there's no way to predict how anyone will respond, more people are supportive and prepared to continue the relationship than you might imagine. And remember, chemotherapy and resulting hair loss is a temporary situation. Your hair will grow back. In the meantime, it's important that you feel good about yourself. Some women choose to wear a wig while others prefer a hat, scarf or turban. Try them all and find out which one suits your style.
Will a new partner be able to accept my new, physically altered body after my breast cancer treatment?
What partners of breast cancer survivors care about most is that their loved one is alive. You should expect no less of a potential partner. Still, a lot of communication is necessary in order for both of you to feel comfortable with the physical and emotional changes you've experienced. You may not feel very attractive or sexy. So first, it's important for you to work at restoring a positive view of yourself. When you feel good about yourself, you will radiate self-confidence that is bound to have a positive effect on your companion. If your relationship is moving toward physical intimacy, discuss the changes in your body and any sexual problems before a sexual encounter. Then proceed at your own pace with what you feel most comfortable. Remember, you are lovable even if your body is changed.
What if I'm disappointed by his reaction?
If you tell a man about your breast cancer and he's no longer interested, then he is not the man for you. It's that simple. Why waste time with someone who is not going to support you emotionally and physically? And remember, every woman who is searching for a partner risks rejection. That's just part of dating. While there's no way to predict how anyone will respond, more people are supportive and prepared to continue the relationship than you might imagine.