“How to date someone who had cancer?” “How can you as a new partner support someone who’s gone through cancer?” “What should I as a new date do or not do?” Every week in the War On Cancer app we post War On Cancer ‘Take Overs’, highlighting topics relevant to those of us during and after cancer treatment. Last week we covered the topic of dating again, after having gone through cancer. Linnéa Hjort, community manager and breast cancer survivor, shared her story of how she started dating after cancer treatment and how she met Michel. This week the War On Cancer weekly take over is done by Michel – loved one, partner, and date. This week he shares practical advice on what to do as a partner, or new date, when the person you met just told you they’ve gone through cancer.
Who am I? I´m a multicultural kid born in one of the world’s poorest countries, growing up between Mozambique and Sweden, one of the better welfare states in the world. My father is Swedish and my mother is from Mozambique. Until I was 20 I’ve been moving back and forth between those two countries.
In my previous relationships I haven’t been so present like I am today. The reason for that was that I’ve always felt that my purpose in life is to live and work in Mozambique which I thought wouldn’t be compatible with having a partner, who would want to sacrifice their life to be here with me? I’m bad when it comes to communicating my emotions and thoughts so I believed that there wouldn’t be anybody out there who would understand me but then, out of nowhere the opportunity to be one of the farmers on the Swedish television show Farmer seeks wife worldwide was presented to me. I was at first sceptical but after thinking further about it, I thought why not, I believe things in life happens for a reason so I accepted and that’s when I met @linnet (you can always connect with her in the War On Cancer app).
Dating someone who’s gone through cancer
After having spent 5 minutes with Linnéa I straight away felt a very strong indescribable connection towards her so I googled her name and an article came up about her. It was an article for the “Fuck cancer” bracelet that she had designed and a short story of what she had experienced, breast cancer. After learning about Linnéa having gone through cancer a million thoughts ran through my mind: ‘‘what would our future look like?’ ‘Will the cancer come back or not?’ ‘Will she be able to live with me in Mozambique?’ ‘What can I do to help her in processing what she’s been through and what can one eat to build up her health again?’ As you understand I began over-analyzing everything until I realised that cancer being a part of our lives is something none of us will have any control over – if we would keep on dating we would have to take it day by day, little by little, as in any relationship. Now, a couple of months later we’re living together and getting to know each other more and more, every day. Cancer is a part of our lives in terms of treatments needed and appointments for after treatment injections having to be booked, but other than that we try to keep our lives as ‘normal’ and simple as possible.
Practical tips on what to do when your date has experienced cancer
I have never dated anyone who has gone through cancer before so I am not an expert in the field here but what I have learned so far, as a loved one and a partner, or a new date, to someone who has gone through cancer is:
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions and say what’s on your mind that’s related to cancer. No one expects anyone to be an expert on cancer so communication is so vital and sometimes saying out loud that you don’t know what the right thing to do can be the right thing to do.
- Don’t pity, you really can’t do that – you fell for a person who’s gone through something tough, which forced them to become stronger, but cancer is something that happened and cancer isn’t part of who your date is.
- Support and try not to let cancer take over your day to day life – it’s okay to forget about cancer sometimes and argue about the small stuff, laugh and not think about life.
- But at the same time don’t get soaked up and allow too much time with small arguments and meaningless pride issues.
- Listen actively and try to understand. Sometimes in our relationship, we have chemo brain situations or side effects from hormonal treatments – it’s not always easy for someone who is managing that while going through cancer and being clear in what they need in the relationship – sometimes read between the lines or fill in the blanks.
- Be present. As much as you can, as often as you can.
Take care of each other,
Join the conversation in-app and connect with others through the War On Cancer in-app account where we will be talking more about dating after cancer.
Read previous War On Cancer takeovers here:
Why are we not talking about prostate cancer?
Coping with a cancer diagnosis
Cancer from a loved one’s perspective
The information shared does not constitute a medical consultation and is not intended to replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult with your doctor or other qualified health provider for questions regarding a medical condition, especially during the active period of Corona / Covid19. Please do not disregard professional health provider advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read here. In the event of a medical emergency, call a doctor, 112 or 911 immediately.