Dating With Disease

Dear Dategirl,

I was recently diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis sounds way heavy. A cure is possible, but not necessarily in the cards. I am healthy now, I feel fine, and the doctors think I can stay like this for a very long time. Of course, I am dramatic and can't even imagine my future; I just started my drugs and I have no idea what the response will be.

Anyway, I am single and can't imagine who in the hell would want to date me. I know I don't have to disclose my health situation on the first date, but it seems unfair to rope someone in emotionally and then have to tell them my expiration date may be sooner than later.

The drugs will affect my libido, too, so that also becomes something that I can't necessarily give as I would have. I want to fall in love, and feel more now than ever that I could really use that energy to move me through, but I can't help but think I will only attract major mental cases. What to do?

—Possible Flatline

Since my firsthand cancer knowledge is limited to a shitty little melanoma on my left ankle, I called my friend Diane Mapes, author of How to Date in a Post-Dating World. She's also going through breast cancer, and blogging about dating with her diagnosis at

The first words out of Diane's mouth were "She shouldn't think of it as 'roping someone in.' That's a negative, down-on-yourself notion." Not to mention, how many first dates turn out to be last dates because the person sitting across from you turns out to be a cretin? Or worse, too blind to see the beauty that is you!

Diane goes on to say, "Everyone has baggage. Do people tell you they come from an alcoholic background or were sexually abused as a child on the first date? No! She should get to know them with a first or second date to see if she likes them and if they like her—and then tell them once she thinks it's appropriate."

Rob Dobrenski, a licensed psychotherapist and author of Crazy: Notes on and off the Couch, agrees. "No one knows how long we get on this earth, and far too many of us act as if we have all the time in the world. She could be around a very long time, and then her biggest regret will have been not pursuing what she wants because she believed she had a shorter lifespan. And anyone who is worth getting involved with would easily take a fantastic relationship for however long it lasts, rather than pass because it may end sooner rather than later."

Diane says she got a little clarity along with her cancer diagnosis: "It helped me realize that, yes, I would like to find somebody. And having cancer also makes it a lot easier to shake off the bad dates. You've got bigger fish to fry, so you don't fuss so much about the little stuff."

So you see, all three experts (yes, I'm including myself) agree: Get out there, young lady!

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