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The 'Joys' of Dating With Cancer

Hi, my name is Lauren and I was diagnosed with stage IV metastatic breast cancer at age

35. I'm a pretend ginger with a heart of black (think of an edgy Ariel) living in San Diego with my fur-baby (my pup Bella Bear) and my roomies.

It's been a year and a half since my diagnosis and I feel like I have a lot to be thankful for. I'm responding pretty well to my treatment and I started to take up burlesque and pole dance as a hobby and a way to release all the anger, anxiety, depression and rest of the emotional rollercoaster feelings that come with cancer, as well as help with gaining back

my confidence.

I went through a really bad breakup about a year before my diagnosis and was just getting over that, when I got hit with the cancer bomb. I have a great support system but living with stage IV cancer and being single was a weird situation so I started to think about finding me a partner in crime again. Dating is weird enough these days - dating apps anyone, ugh (eye-roll)?

So after the initial shock of my diagnosis wore off I figured, what the hell do I have to lose, right?! I signed up for Bumble and did my finger exercises to get prepared to start swiping. I match and have my first date. It was great, actually. We hit it off. Witty banter, playful insults, beers flowing, feeling good. However, in the back of my mind I'm wondering when to tell him my "big news." Do I tell him? Should I wait a while? What's the protocol? Is there a time limit?

After a few more dates I could tell we were headed to the next step (ya know, "bow chica bow wow"). We go back to his place and start fooling around. Mind you, I still hadn't told him about my situation yet. I'll try to spare you of the TMI details, but my shirt and bra magically come off (so weird when that happens) and of COURSE he goes straight to my shit tit first (Oh yeah, forgot to mention that's what I call the boob that's trying to kill me. My shit tit.). My nipple is inverted due to the tumor and I swear it was like a tractor beam led him right to it.

He tried playing with it for a bit and then he stopped mid fooling-around and he did that thing that puppies do when you ask them a question -- you know, the head tilt from side to side. He just stared at it and finally looked at me with failure in his eyes and said "I'm trying to get it (my nipple) to come out, but it's not working." I look down at my inverted nip and chuckled awkwardly. "Oh, um, about that..."

So, that's when I broke the news to him. I told him about my diagnosis and the reason I found out about it was because of my inverted nipple. Told him about my first doctor visit, then all of the biopsies, scans, tests and so on and so on. After explaining it to him, he innocently said "Stage IV is like the good stage, right?" (Bless his little heart)

"Um. Well, no, it's the worst, but I do love me a challenge" I replied sarcastically (because sarcasm is life, duh).

That was definitely not how I intended to tell him, but, when in Rome. I had to hold back tears in my eyes (allergies, it was totally allergies) but he ended up being really sweet about it. It could've gone a lot worse. And guess what, (no, unfortunately this isn't one of those stories where we end up getting married in the end, but) I didn't scare him off! We dated for a few months (it didn't end up getting serious because I'm a cold-hearted bish who is afraid of commitment, but that's a whole other story lol).

We still talk and hang out occasionally, but the moral of the story is if you keep swiping right enough (jk jk), the moral is this: shit happens that is out of our control, much like cancer. We can't change it, we can't go back in time to fix it, we can't wish it away. Having cancer changes things, it changes A LOT of things. It’s cruel, it’s blind, it’s heartbreaking, it’s painful, but it also can make you stronger and learn to truly live in the moment. And that is what I’m attempting to do. Live in every imperfect moment. Because I have no idea how much longer I have left.

I’m learning to go with the flow and not sweat the small stuff. I’m learning that I can’t control every little thing that goes wrong. I’m learning to say yes to myself more and not be afraid to say no to things I don’t want to do. I’m choosing to embrace it as best I can. And the crazy part is, I’m doing it all alone. I’m still single and even though, like I said, I have a great group of people supporting me, it really is just me going through this. Is it easy? F*ck no! But damn I try. And if that doesn’t make you learn to love yourself, I don’t know what will.

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