One of the most common issues I come across patients is when it comes to dating, when is the right time to discuss that you had cancer, and as in my case, some very serious late developing side effects. I had originally wrote this in various forms, but felt this small script would illustrate a lighter side, to hopefully take some pressure off wondering when would be the right time. I will write about my own personal experience in a near future post. As always, feel free to comment or ask questions, if you can relate to this type of problem.
“My name is Stephen. I have a friend named Paul. Poor guy. He is in the middle of his second divorce. If only that were the hardest of his problems. He is not a bad looking guy, and he is really nice. But for the first time in twenty-four years, he is heading back into the dating pool, that’s not the hardest this got. In that twenty-four years, he had to battle cancer and some late developing side effects from the treatments.
He has been reluctant to date, because he wants to be honest about his medical history, but has no idea, when the time would be right to bring his health up. I told him to go with his heart. He would know when. And with that, I set him up on a dinner date with a friend of mine, Josephine. They are about the same age, attractive, both have hearts of gold, and unfortunately share something in common.”
Hostess: If you follow me sir, your guest is already seated at your table.
Paul: Thank you.
Hostess: Here you are sir, may I introduce you to Josephine.
Paul: Nice to meet you.
Josephine: Nice to meet you too.
Hostess: Your waitress will be right by to take your drink orders.
A couple of minutes pass as Paul and Josephine exchange some chit chat. The waitress stops by the table.
Waitress: Good evening. My name is Alyssa and I’ll be your server this evening. Can I get either of you something to drink?
Josephine: I would like a glass of cabernet please.
Paul: I will have a glass of Yuengling Lager, and I had cancer twenty-three years ago, (he says softly and very quickly under his breath).
Josephine snaps her attention to Paul, unsure of what he just said following the word lager.
Waitress: Very well. I’ll be right back with your drinks and to take your orders.
Paul: So Josephine, it is really nice to meet you. Please, tell me about yourself.
Josephine: Well, I’m originally from New Jersey but have lived here for about ten years. I have two grown children. How about you?
Paul: I’m originally from Pennsylvania and moved here recently. (The waitress returns with the drinks) I have two children that I adopted from China because chemo left me unable to have biological children (once again much too softly and quickly for Josephine to hear what he has said)
Waitress: And here you go… Cabernet for you Miss and a Yuengling for you sir. Are you ready to order?
Josephine is really confused at this point but nods “yes”.
Paul: Yes, we are.
Waitress: For you Ma’am?
Josephine: I’ll have the mussels for an appetizer, a Caesar salad, and the baked mozzarella ravioli with Shrimp in Alfredo sauce.
Waitress: And for you sir?
Paul: I tried radiation first I’ll have the house pirogues with the garlic butter sauce… (Josephine now really concentrating on Paul’s seemingly subliminal conversation) And I too will have a Caesar salad because chemo worked better. And I would like the sirloin cooked medium my Hodgkin’s lymphoma was rare enough.
Waitress: Very well. I will put your order in right away.
Josephine: (looking for clarification) So Paul, you were saying… you have two children…
Paul: Yes, two beautiful daughters. I work as a laboratory assistant for a pharmaceutical company as a way to pay forward, for medicine finding a cure for me.
Josephine now totally confused, asks Paul…
Josephine: Is there something that you need to tell me?
Paul: Actually there is. I just don’t know where to start. I’m attracted to you. And you are definitely a wonderful woman. But I’m afraid that what I am about to tell you, might ruin any chance I might have to get to know you better.
Josephine: Why don’t you let me decide? What’s on your mind?
Paul: I am a cancer survivor. I had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma twenty-four years ago. I have had to deal with some pretty nasty late developing side effects since then. But for the most part I am healthy otherwise.
Josephine: I must tell you, I wasn’t expecting to hear that at all. But guess what? My son, who is twenty-three just completed his treatments for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and I’m sure he would love to meet someone who has survived for so long. It won’t happen right now, he’s recovering from his own complication from his treatments as well. That is actually what I am doing here. I have been staying here while he’s recovering in the hospital.
Stephen: Sometimes when we least expect it, and not looking for it, opportunity finds us. At times, it is more than just an opportunity; it might just be much bigger than that.