Skip to Navigation Skip to Search Skip to Content
Search All Centers

Dating After a Cancer Diagnosis

Read Transcript
View next

Published on May 8, 2020

Key Takeaways

Many cancer patients have questions about starting to date people again. They may ask questions like, "How do I meet people? When do I tell them that I have cancer? Do I even tell them that I have cancer?

A patient panel, including two lung cancer survivors and a prostate cancer patient, discuss how to overcome the challenges and fears about dating after diagnosis.

Watch to hear their perspectives on getting back into the the dating scene, the impact of cancer on new and existing relationships and ways to get past negative feelings and pursue romantic relationships. 

Featuring

Transcript | Dating After a Cancer Diagnosis

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.

Laura Levaas:

I was diagnosed with stage IV non-small cell metastatic lung cancer, that's a handful there, in June of 2017. So I really know what it's like to walk this cancer journey day by day. And it is a journey, and it's a roller coaster. Today we're going to be talking about dating after a cancer diagnosis. So for some of you, this may not be of interest at all. This might not be your jam. Maybe you're already married or in a relationship, or you don't feel like you want to date right now, or like me, I never thought that I would date again. So we run the gamut here. But for others, you might actually be considering dating and thinking about this topic.

Like, "What am I going to do right now? How do I meet people? When do I tell them that I have cancer? Do I even tell them that I have cancer?" So we've all been living with this cancer diagnosis, and we still want to meet people and live our lives. So today we're going to talk to a few patients that are surviving and thriving with cancer and also dating and living their best lives. So let's start with Corey Kaspear. Hi, Corey.

Corey Kaspear:

Hi.

Laura Levaas:

Even though I know Corey, and I have messaged her, and we've texted and written, and we're in some Facebook support groups together, I've never met her before. So it's nice to see your pretty face. Hello!

Corey Kaspear:

Yes, it's nice finally meet you.

Laura Levaas:

Corey and I also have a similar diagnosis. So, Corey, can you tell me a little about your cancer story?

Corey Kaspear:

At 32, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I was stage I at the time, and I had surgery, but a year-and-a-half later it came back, metastatic. That was very, very devastating as I'm sure people could guess. And since then I've been trying to kind of rebuild my life. I feel like I kind of lost my career and relationships. I moved back up here to Northern California. I kind of restarted everything. So I'm kind of learning what it's like to live with this illness.

Laura Levaas:

So can you tell me, what was your dating status at the time that you were diagnosed?

Corey Kaspear:

I was in a serious relationship. And I think probably a lot of people have experienced something similar like this where everything is great in a relationship, but it hasn't really been tested, seriously. Whether that's the death in the family or financial burden or a cancer diagnosis. And even though we really cared about each other, it just kind of broke the relationship. And then when it came back stage IV, I hadn't really been dating, and I just thought, "Oh my gosh, how am I going to date now?" No one would want to date me with stage IV cancer. I was convinced of it.

Laura Levaas:

Yeah, I totally understand. I come from a similar place. Can you tell me what was the time difference between your stage I diagnosis and your stage IV? What was the time difference?

Corey Kaspear:

It was a year-and-a-half I was in remission.

Laura Levaas:

A year-and-a-half. Okay. Yeah. That's crazy, actually. At what point did you feel like you were ready to start dating again?

Corey Kaspear:

I don't know if I still am. Yeah, I'm not really sure. I knew for the first year after I had my surgery and that serious relationship broke, I knew I wasn't ready to date, and I needed just alone time. And I never really felt ready, but people just started coming into my life ,and some of them were men, some of them were men that I was interested in. And relationships just kind of ended up happening, which was really shocking to me.

Laura Levaas:

So you are datable.

Corey Kaspear:

Yes, yes. Even with metastatic cancer. Yes. Some people walk out of your life, and some people walk in.

Laura Levaas:

That's true. So am I correct in saying that you are in a relationship right now?

Corey Kaspear:

I am, yes. I actually met him on Tinder of all places.

Laura Levaas:

Tinder. Okay.

Corey Kaspear:

Yeah. And it was really, really scary to be on Tinder, because I've been dating since my stage IV diagnosis, but it was people who I knew already, like from high school or a friend of a friend. I didn't have to break the news to them. And I knew if I did Tinder, this is going to be a stranger, and I'm going to get to know them and then tell them this. And that kept me off Tinder for a while. I was terrified. I was just convinced that they'd be like, “I'm not interested. This is too much." I eventually told him a couple months in, and it was terrifying, but it actually went great. It was not at all what I thought it would be, not at all what I feared it would be. And 10 months later, we're still dating. It didn't scare him off.

Laura Levaas:

That's amazing.

Corey Kaspear:

Yeah. I really had to check myself of what I was telling myself would happen and all these fears that I thought would happen and it's really been the complete opposite. Yeah, it's been great.

Laura Levaas:

That's awesome. I'm so happy to hear that. And do you mind if I ask how, how did he react when you told him the news?

Corey Kaspear:

He was shocked. He was very shocked. I mean, I'm very lucky. I have a genetic mutation so I'm able to take a daily pill for my cancer and I get to keep my hair. If I put makeup on—I look pretty healthy. Cover up the dark circles, so I don't look too tired. If they see me on my good days, you really wouldn't know that I have cancer. He was really, really surprised. It took him a while to kind of wrap his head around it. But he just basically held my hand and said like, "Okay, I need to wrap my head around this a little bit, but this doesn't mean I want to stop dating you."

And over the next month or two, he just would ask good questions, and he wasn't afraid to ask questions. The conversation itself was terrifying, but I was shocked at how well it went. He'd just sit and listen and then ask really good questions.

Laura Levaas:

Well, that is wonderful news, and I'm so happy to hear that. Would you have any—I hate to say the word advice, but any information that would be useful to our audience, folks who are watching that have a cancer diagnosis that are like, "Oh my gosh, I'm not datable, nobody's going to want me." I mean, you're a case in point. That's not true. And again, your diagnosis is, every cancer is different, but what would you say to people who are maybe feeling tentative about dating?

Corey Kaspear:

I feel like everyone I've talked to who is single and not married yet with cancer and looking to date, we are all just terrified. We're so terrified of other people's reactions and that we won't be datable. My only advice is just whatever you're telling yourself, the reasons why, it's not true. And that's just been really shocking for me, that the right people are going to stick around, and it's really surprising. People can really, really surprise you—and to just be brave.

Laura Levaas:

Thank you for sharing your story, Corey. Hang on, we're going to talk to Barry. This is my friend, Barry Scrimpshire, from Huntsville, Alabama. Barry and I have known each other for quite some time. How's it going?

Barry Scrimpshire:

Good. Good. It's good to see you.

Laura Levaas:

Good to see you too. And I hear you're kind of baking down there in Huntsville today.

Barry Scrimpshire:

It's a tad warm.

Laura Levaas:

So, Barry, very thank you for volunteering today to be on our Facebook Live with Patient Power. I'm so excited to have a man that was willing to step up to the plate and talk about dating and cancer. So can you tell us what is your cancer story? What would you like to share with us?

Barry Scrimpshire:

Sure. So I was diagnosed about a year ago with high PSA. Immediately went into denial because that's frequently—since it's a single flag indicator, frequently there's a false positive component to that. So I said, "No, I'm training for a sprint triathlon. I must finish this race." And my doctor said, "Well, you're probably okay. We'll just delay—do you want to get a biopsy? But we'll wait until the end of summer when you're done with the training." So we did. And then when the doctor calls you back with the test results instead of the nurse, it's like, "Okay, there's a big warning flag." And by the time I explored my options for dealing with the prostate cancer diagnosis, I wound up having a surgery in December, this past December.

Laura Levaas:

Oh wow.

Barry Scrimpshire:

Yeah. Prostate cancer, at that point, there's no indication that it's metastasized. We'll continue to monitor, of course, do the PSA check. And as long as that stays undetectable then I should be in good shape. Of course, the thing with prostate cancer, when they remove the prostate they have to re-plumb you on the inside, so you have to relearn urinary control and then there's some impacts to sexual function, which ranges from slight degradation to complete loss. And the doctors were all like, "Yeah, well, you'll find out." And it can be anywhere from two months to two or three years until your body lets you know what that new normal is going to be.

Laura Levaas:

Like, "Gee, thanks, doc."

Barry Scrimpshire:

Exactly. Yeah.

Laura Levaas:

Given that your surgery was just this past December, have been dating this whole time? Or when did you decide, "Hey, you know what? I'm ready to get back out there"? Because you were married before. Barry was married, actually, to a friend of mine from high school. Hi, Dina, if you're watching.

Barry Scrimpshire:

Yes. That throws a little wrinkle into it, because I was divorced about four years ago. And it was a year-and-a-half to two years after that before I even entertained the thought of dating and spent a little bit of time on Match, had a couple of lunches, met some very nice people and then ran screaming going, "No, I'm not ready for this. I'm not ready." And that was before any cancer conversation, right?

Laura Levaas:

Yeah.

Barry Scrimpshire:

That was post-divorce. And then decided, well, I need to work on my fitness, I need to improve my own health. And was actively engaged in pursuing that when, through some just standard routine blood work, they flagged the high PSA level. So then I pretty much went into denial, as I said, until they took the biopsy and they're like, "No, you need to deal with this." And since that point, there's been no real thought of dating until maybe a month or two ago as we're getting to springtime, and I'm into a new exercise routine, which has helped tremendously. Have some new triathlon goals, which is very helpful to have that target to work towards. As well as, you'd mentioned at the beginning, how do you meet people, right?

Laura Levaas:

Right.

Barry Scrimpshire:

And I don't think that answer changes significantly. You do the things you're interested in doing, and you go find groups of people who are interested in those same things, whether it's community service, your church, a book club, in my case, the local triathlon club and some other groups that train for that. I'm meeting new people. I'm open to the opportunities. There are a lot of nice folks out there, and we'll see what happens.

Laura Levaas:

Well, thank you, Barry. That was going to be my next question is, where do you meet people? I often think back. I'm like, "Well, I am still the same person that I was before I had cancer. So where did I meet people before?" I like your answer, do what you want to do and the right people will come along. Just a quick moment to talk about my story. I was in a long-term relationship when I was diagnosed with cancer, and it was very sudden. It was very touch and go. And my partner at that time, it was just too much to bear. And so similar to you, Corey, it was a big sense of loss, losing mobility, losing a job, losing a relationship, losing your home. But on the flip side of that, two years later, I really feel like my life is transformed. I've tried to do some online dating. I've met some great guys. I've met some very weird guys. But that's the way it was before, right?

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you.
 
Recommended for You 

View next