How to date someone with a terminal illness


Dating someone with cancer or any life threatening illness is like entering Mordor, and as we all know, one does not simply enter a relationship without doing some research.

Dating in general is hard, especially in todays digital “I want it now”  ( Veruca Salt FTL!) age; now throw a little cancer into the mix, shake it up a bit and you will find dating to be almost impossible. The Key word is Almost.

Before I get started, here are a couple things to consider. Take a good, hard look at the reality of their situation and what you yourself want. You also have to consider the vast array of emotions that you’re going to feel through out this journey. 

First of all, don’t buy into those silly books that romanticize cancer, I’m looking at you Nicholas Sparks and John Green.

As a Jedi once told me ” Patience, you must have my young padawan. Patience is Key, in all honesty, it took a lot for that person to tell you in the first place, so cut them some slack.  Feel free to ask questions, but don’t 60 minutes them to death, also, do not expect them to divulge everything about their journey with cancer. This isn’t “The Year of  Magical Thinking”.

It’s OKAY to be scared, seriously, it is! Talk about what specifically scares you with your partner; I can pretty much guarantee you that it will help build your relationship.  Remember, that fear is what makes us human, so use it to your advantage. You’re probably asking yourself, “but how Jedi Master, Keith?  Simple, let go of what scares you and you will truly be able to live.

Don’t let anyone else influence you, you are in a league of your own. Seriously, you are in the boss battles of all boss battles, you can make up your own mind. It’s okay to ask for advice, but in the end, it’s all you.

Don’t be a back seat doctor, seriously, Anakin, don’t do it, the real doctor has the high ground! We know you want the best for us, but unless you actually have a medical degree, have powers beyond this world or you’re simply the devil/Angel, you don’t know JACK. It’s okay to talk to us about alternative medicine that you have read about, but please don’t pontificate your new found love of science to us.

I want to talk about physical limitations. ::Barry White Voice::  “That’s Right”  So there will be days when your partner will be so exhausted, that they will literally have to roll out of their bed to go to the bathroom, let alone get intimate. S0 when you do get intimate :: Barry White Voice:: ” Ahhhhh, Yeah Girl”  communicate to each other. This is on you, patients, if your partner thinks they are hurting you in anyway, it’s over, and if it does hurt, but you want to continue, talk them through it.  Having Sex while undergoing treatment is like playing WarGames, you know you probably should be playing chess with your partner, but Thermonuclear Detonation   is more fun ( You see what I did there?!)  ::sigh:: One last thing, do not strain yourself or put yourself in danger, communicate to each other!

Chemotherapy affects everyone differently, some people are really tired after their session, while others  feel the affect much later. Believe it or not, there are some people who go to the gym right after their treatment; either way, the movies lied,  no one throws up automatically after chemo.

Hero Worship is never good… No one I know wanted cancer, so don’t put your significant other on a pedestal. It’s okay tell them about your terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Trust me, we want to know how your day was, we want to be there for you too. Don’t ever feel like you can’t express how bad you’re feeling because we may not be feeling well.

If your partner becomes depressed or is taking medication that has altered his mood in anyway, talk to him about it. I have taken more radiation to the face than Bruce Banner. Seriously, I have taken medication that has affected my mood so bad, it made Courtney love seem sane. The more honest you guys are the better.

Lastly, Don’t let him take his anger out on you!  It’s going to be difficult, there will be bad days, there will be crying and There Will be Blood. uhhh errr sorry, I’m watching Daniel Day lewis as I’m writing this.

Congrats on making it this far in your relationship and I hope you make it work. I tell you this, there is nothing more rewarding, than crawling out of the primordial soup of mediocrity and knowing that you took on the impossible and made it.  I hope this helps you Star fire and any other person who may be curious.







  1. John Green’s book didn’t romanticize cancer. It was a horrible story about two teenagers falling in love in spite of their cancer. And it made me cry, a lot. I feel like if their love had cured their cancer it’d be a little more romanticized. Just an opinion from someone without cancer, though, so I suppose my comments on the matter are null.

    1. You have a right to your opinion! I don’t really agree with you, but you are definitely entitled. I found the main characters lack of empathy for anyone and anything to be unbelievable and not very realistic… That’s just the tip of the Iceberg

  2. Thank you for this post! I’m considering getting back into the dating game, but was recently put on the liver transplant waiting list. I was looking for some online advice to help sway me in to giving it a chance or just leaving it be. Your article moved me off the fence. I’m going for it. Why not? Who knows how much longer any of us have left to live, and there are many life challenges couples face on a regular basis. Thanks for sharing this!

  3. I just have to say thanks.
    I’m trying to find articles to help me .
    Am I doing the right thing … is he … am I keeping my wall up because of past experiences or the threat of the aftermath of the chemo … anyway
    Dating w side note of chemo never crossed my mind ….. but here it is.

  4. Thank you so much for what you wrote, you really helped me out.
    Right now as I am writing this the man I love is battling cancer for the second time. He tells me its not going so well. I just met him 2 months ago and he means the world to me. Its scary because he is 20+ years older than I am. From day 1 we had this connection and I fell for him; then I found out all hes going through and nothing changed. I still feel the same. Love at first, second…. thousandth etc time….
    So I watch him now, hes in pain and it breaks me. What you wrote has been so helpful Ive done so much wrong here for example Ive avoided talking about my problems cause it doesnt compare, Ive argued against his doctors; what you are saying is logical, so thank you I dont know how to act in this situation.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s