If Bridget Jones thought she had issues dating, then imagine dating when you have terminal cancer. I have the same issues Bridget had, that bee stung bloated face (although I think that's more Renée Zellweger's face than character acting), granny undies way outweigh lacy Victoria secret underwear in my drawer, wine is my main form of hydration and I suffer from chronic verbal diarrhoea, if there's something inappropriate to be said, I am
the one who will say it, just ask any of my friends or family, I have no filter and nor do I intend to start filtering what I say, stuff it I have terminal cancer, if I wanna say something I'll say it and I'll deal with the nuclear fallout later.
I am a 34 year old woman who has recently separated from my long term partner of nearly 14 years, I say recently, really it was June last year, but we've continued to communicate since maybe 8 weeks after breaking up.
Breaking up was a difficult decision to make, he and I had been together since I was 19 turning 20, he came into my life at a very uncertain time for me. My parents and brother (my only family in Australia) were moving back to Ireland and I was moving out of home for the first time. I had to become an adult over night, I mean I had done laundry, cooked dinners and washed dishes, but I'd never had to pay for my clothes that I had to wash, I never had to pay for the steak that I cooked and I certainly never had to pay for the electricity or water usage to do the dishes, so I suppose you could say I met my ex partner at a time that I was confused and very unsure about my future.
He was suave, had a secure job, a quirky/wicked sense of humour, made my heart jump and my face would turn red when I would see him, but there was one thing that I would say most people noticed first, he was older and when I say older, A LOT older and if I'm honest he brought more baggage with him than Kim Kardashian would on a one week trip to New York fashion week, but I fell in love, I loved his confidence, which I would probably now categorise as ego.
Anyway I'm not going to get into the ups, downs and sideways of our long long long relationship, but I can say, for all the faults there were in our relationship, from both sides, from the time I was initially diagnosed with cancer and the time I was told it had come back, he was there, by my side at every moment, every meeting, every treatment, every surgery, every toxic vomit, when my hair started to fall out we shared the hair shaving duties with his electric razor, he was the one who would make my gluten free bacon and egg rolls when I was on Chemo at any hour of the night, if I wanted it at 3.30am he would get up and do it, so I could never complain or say a bad word about his commitment to caring for me while I was and consequently have been sick. Sadly though he and I just didn't work cohesively as a couple, we didn't for a long time and when the cancer came initially, we were actually at a crossroads for a reason that he knows about and I don't need to go in to, but let's just say when this ugly C word raised its head, we were already in an unstable position, but I got Cancer and those other problems got swept under the rug.
Here we are today and I have absolutely no desire to be in a relationship, I don't know if it's because of my previous relationship or if it's because my libido is non existent due to my hormones being everywhere from the myriad of treatments I've had, but I can honestly say that a relationship, a quicky in a best western, a swipe right on tinder or a drunken kiss in a nightclub, is absolutely the last thing on my mind.
I know there are many men and women who have a chronic illness or a terminal disease out there that still have a desire to love and be loved, I'm just not one of them, well I'm not at the moment anyway and I often wonder if I was, how would one broach the subject? So you're at a bar and a guy approaches you and asks to buy you a drink, do you blurt it out mid drink invitation?, Do you wait until after your first sip? Do you wait until you're finished the drink or do you wait until you're 3 sheets to the wind and then admit that you're expiring as you speak or just not tell them at all? What is the terminal disease admission etiquette? Just like you single mothers and fathers out there, I'm sure you've all grappled with the "when do you drop the I have a kid bomb?".
I'm sure diving back into the dating pool at my age already has its challenges, like for me I suppose if the cancer didn't exist, men would probably be thinking, Why? why are you still single at this age? Haven't you been married by now.......at least once? Don't you have a kid? What's wrong with you that you've reached your mid thirties and no-one, NO-ONE has thought enough of you to at least get you pregnant?
Then there's the old "are you married?" chestnut that you're inevitably asked when you're at treatment or admitted to hospital. Apparently once you hit 30 it is abnormal to not be married or at least divorced, well excuse me if I like being abnormal, I'm choosing me at the moment and to be honest even if I didn't have the big C, I still think I would have broken up with my partner and I'd be in the exact same position, but not dying.
I am obviously in the minority when it comes to wanting to be single and alone and not dating, because all you have to do is look at the amount of dating sites there are on google or the amount of dating site ads on TV and the fact that these dating websites are now subgrouped and so specific, like Ashley Madison.......married who cares, looking for that like minded Christian that wants to be chaste until your honeymoon, go to chrisitianconnection.com, love your dog like they're your daughter and not your pet, why not go to animalpeople.com? Are you tall and looking for that equally vertically unchallenged soulmate, go to tallfriends.com, I could go on and on, but here's two more and I must admit my favourite of the most specific dating sites, they're so good I can't decide which one wins the "most uniquely unambiguous of all dating sites ever created", if you're into "furry fandom", dressing up and behaving like an animal of some sort, fear not your perfect furry friend is waiting for you at furrymate.com or for those of you who really are big kids at heart and love wearing nappies, don't despair you too can also find your nappy wearing soulmate at diapermates.com. Whatever happened to plain old RSVP? Where you find out that the guy you've met online has a diaper fetish the traditional way, by snooping through his wardrobes when he's popped out to pick up your Chinese takeaway, I mean have we become that lazy that we can't even do our own vetting? People, finding out these wonderfully out there things about the person you're dating is half the fun of dating!
I suppose if the guy doesn't want a long term thing, then I might be in with a chance, what with my rapidly approaching expiration date and all?
So for now I'm happy the way things are, just me, myself and I, eventually when someone has created "terminal tinder" (note to self: copyright terminal tinder) maybe I'll be ready to swipe right, but will someone swipe right for me?
My name is Lisa Magill and I have been navigating the minefield that is cancer since just months after turning 30, people have been saying to me for years that I should put my thoughts into writing and as time has progressed I thought I had left it too late, well here we are nearly 4 years in and for some unknown reason I've decided to start to write today.