She can still have sex, but her vagina is only two inches long. The self-described "boy-crazy social butterfly" quickly retreated from the social scene, falling into a deep depression.
Dating was off the table. Each year, some 70, young adults in the U. While cancer at any age can be devastating, this group finds themselves battling a sometimes deadly disease at the same time they're asserting their independence in ways both big and small: When it comes to finding love, in particular, having cancer takes so many of the issues that singles face -- body image, sexual experience, self-esteem and the task of explaining one's personal history -- and amplifies them.
The Insider's Guide to Cancer in Your 20s and 30s , who was diagnosed with thyroid cancer at age That doesn't necessarily mean young cancer patients need to hit the pause button on dating, but it can be more complicated.
Like anyone else in the midst of a traumatic life event, experts say, they should be cautious about pushing themselves to date before they're ready, despite cultural and familial pressures to marry and have children. Rosenthal -- who dated and ultimately married her husband during her yearslong battle with thyroid cancer -- says patients and survivors, much like their healthy counterparts, need to be honest with themselves about what they're really looking for: If an individual doesn't know or if a sick person is likely to mistake her own neediness for feelings of love, it may be best to hold off on dating altogether.
Although, Rosenthal points out, fate can override such decisions: If someone meets the right person, even after deciding on a dating hiatus, he shouldn't necessarily dismiss that person on principle. Complicating matters further, Rosenthal says, cancer patients can sometimes have trouble relating to a healthy partner. Diagnosis and treatment can create a bubble of sorts, and they might be shocked to see others worrying about trivial things when they've been focused on the enormous task of staying alive.
When patients do opt to date, Rosenthal suggests setting clear boundaries: Obviously, health and treatment take priority over a hot night out. Making that choice can take self-awareness and discipline -- and support. Sometimes the best advice comes from other patients in the form of online or in-person support groups. My parents might tell me something, but they're my parents," says Bradley Zebrack, associate professor of social work at the University of Michigan, whose research focuses primarily on adolescents and young adults with cancer.
Inevitably, some patients and survivors end up dating each other, taking comfort in someone who can commiserate. Certain online dating sites even promise to do the matchmaking. But Rosenthal cautions that while she certainly wouldn't rule out a mate with cancer, it's hard enough to make a relationship work when one partner is diagnosed with the disease. While receiving treatment at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Felder recalls meeting one young married couple in their mid to late 20s.
Generation Why: Dating With Cancer | HuffPost
The wife was there for every one of her husband's treatments, Felder says. But Felder eventually realized she had to accept herself as a cancer patient before anyone else could. It took Felder about a year before she was even comfortable flirting and months after that until she could think about dating. Her first trip back to happy hour was difficult.
After a series of bad dates, including one in which she nervously chatted the whole time about cancer "I never heard from him again" and another in which a man asked her if not being able to have children meant she was up for spontaneous sex "Ah, no" , Felder eventually built her confidence back up.
Self-esteem problems aren't confined to women, of course. Jonny Imerman, founder of the cancer support group Imerman Angels in Chicago, was diagnosed with testicular cancer at age He had his testicle removed and underwent chemotherapy. When he was 28, the cancer recurred with four tumors in his abdomen, which were surgically removed. When his scans were finally clear, he says, his confidence had hit a "0. Despite a very supportive network of family and friends, Imerman says, he craved the comfort of a steady relationship. Two months out of chemo, he rushed into a serious relationship.
But as his confidence started increasing post-cancer, he realized she might have been the perfect fit for "Chemo Jonny," but not for cancer-free Jonny. She was an introverted movie buff, which worked well when he was still exhausted from treatment, but as he started to get his old energy back, he realized their temperaments weren't aligned.
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How Dating Changed After Thyroid Cancer Surgery
I would be happy to receive news and updates from Cancer Chat. To continue using Cancer Chat, we need you to read and accept our updated Terms and Conditions. Leave this field blank. Not a member yet? The bright side for her was she was already happily married at the time to a wonderful man who helped her through her struggle. As for me, I was playing the infamous Los Angeles dating game.
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Aside from the general train-wreck that is dating, I always enjoyed meeting new people. All of that nonsense I can take in stride. But after I had a total thyroidectomy, life threw me a curveball. Besides the fact that I had a case my surgeon deemed as his worst of the year, and was in the hospital for far longer than I should have been, it was the post-hospital life changes that were hardest to handle.
I went from being an energetic person who hopped out of bed between 5: It felt like concrete had been poured on my limbs and torso.
PDQ Cancer Information Summaries [Internet].
As much as I knew it was time to start the day, my body kept me trapped. My recovery process finally evolved when my endocrinologist got me on a daily dose of synthroid synthetic thyroid hormone pills. Because my synthroid levels were not yet regulated, and my body was still recovering from surgery, the amount of activity I could do in a single day was limited. I could no longer produce thyroid hormone on its own. So if I wanted to stay up late, my sapped energy would cause my limbs to feel very heavy, as well as my eyelids.
At least falling asleep would be easy.
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