Dating After Breast Cancer
(Page 9 of 9)
Nine women talk about going out, looking for love, and when to bring up you-know-what
By Marion Long
KRISTY ALSIP, 41
Customer service manager
Diagnosed with stage II breast cancer in 2002
Lumpectomy and reconstruction
I had a lumpectomy, but I was quite small-breasted and it took most of the breast, so it might as well have been a mastectomy. So a year and three months later, I had reconstructive surgery with silicone implants.
My husband and I were together for 18 years. We had broken up a couple of times, and the cancer really had nothing to do with the marriage ending. In fact, he took very good care of me while I was in recovery and going through radiation. It wasn't until a couple of years later that he decided he didn't want to be married anymore. I've been single for close to two years. And dating didn't come about right away, because I had to go through a kind of grieving process. You do have to learn to love your body again, even though it's different than it was before, and to feel good without your clothes on. To me, that was probably the hardest part, getting to know someone new outside of my comfort level, and wondering if they would still find me attractive, even though I don't have perfect breasts. But I regained my self-confidence, and that alone, in my opinion, has a lot to do with anyone's success in meeting people, and in other people being interested in you.
I wasn't even considering being in a relationship. I was fine taking care of myself; my kids are teenagers, and they're supportive in everything that I do. But after about eight months or so, I started going out, pretty much just for socializing and friendship.
The relationships have just happened on their own. And introducing the fact that I have had breast cancer into these dating situations has happened naturally, too. I have never thought, oh, how will I tell them about the cancer? How do I work it into a conversation? It's part of who I am, but it's not a "I have to tell men this just in case they see me naked" kind of thing. If I don't tell them about it, I don't feel like I'm being dishonest at all. Though I haven't been with anyone who didn't know I had had cancer. So I guess that's part of getting to know me.
I'm not ashamed of the disease at all; I never feel insecure bringing it up. I'm proud to say that I've had cancer and you can still lead a great, fun and productive life despite it. My life is actually better now and I'm proud to tell people, "Yeah, I'm a survivor, a four-year survivor."