Difficulties Dating a Cancer Survivor

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DEAR MIDLIFE BACHELOR:  I am an Asian man in my mid-40s, and am dating a mid-40s woman who is a breast cancer survivor. After we had been out a few times, things started getting pretty hot and heavy at her place, and she revealed to me that she had recovered from breast cancer and had reconstructive surgery … but that it wasn’t pretty. I honestly didn’t let it bother me since she still had breasts, they looked good enough to me, and she was attractive to me otherwise. On our next date which she initiated, we went back to her house and decided to have sex. However, as I tried to penetrate her, she was way too tight to get in.

She then indicated she had this problem before, and that it was due to meds she takes for breast cancer treatment. I tried some more manual stimulation … We finally resorted to her manually stimulating me to climax … she handled it well and made me feel pretty good, but I have to admit it was a little disappointing that I didn’t get “full service” as this was my first time sex coming off a divorce, and I had really looked forward to it. I went ahead and sent her flowers the next day since it was our first sexual encounter and I had really enjoyed it even though I didn’t get everything I had hoped.

Now I think she feels bad or guilty, and has almost immediately become distant even though we went on another date. I am willing to work with her and see if we can work through the whole sex thing, but I

christina applegate350

suspect/am guessing she feels pressure and/or guilt, probably has had this happen before with negative results, and doesn’t want to try again and have another failure. Is this relationship doomed? We have only known each other for 3 months after meeting … and I am not sure if I handled the situation correctly, or not, or if I should even pursue anything further. I really like being with her – she is a fascinating woman, but obviously sex is an important part of a dating relationship at some point. I have no idea if this sex issue can be resolved. I am pretty sure she has had sex at some point in her life post breast cancer since post-breast cancer but previous to me, she had a boyfriend. Maybe that relationship did not work out because of her problem? I just don’t know. What should I do? Should I pursue this further – and if so, then how??? I am in completely unfamiliar waters. I don’t want to mess her up any more emotionally or handle this wrong, but I do want to eventually have real sex, or end the relationship.


Thanks for writing in. This is DEFINITELY a unique question … I cannot say that I’ve encountered anything like it in the past. By the way, I had an especially difficult time choosing a photo to go along with this question/answer, and I wound up settling on a great photo of Christina Applegate – who in my mind is the most famous breast cancer survivor (and also the hottest, too).

Here is my take on your situation. First of all – you are a great guy for working with her on this issue … kudos to you. Not everyone would even stick around this long – but you are being very genuine toward her, and that is what I call GOOD KARMA. Spreading good karma as you are will pay you dividends in the future – or so I believe.

Now you mention that you are newly divorced, and this is your first real sexual encounter since your divorce. What I can tell you as a fellow midlife bachelor is – all women out there typically have some sort of issue … some are just more tolerable than others. If you REALLY LIKE this woman, then stay the course – and see how things progress. It is possible that you and her could work out – and get past this issue.

The other side of the coin is – you are fresh out of a divorce, and owe it to yourself NOT to get serious with the first woman that comes along (issue or no issue). This is what I call REBOUND BEHAVIOR, and I discuss it at length in the Midlife Dating Advice section of midlifebachelor.com. Here is the exact page:

Rebound – Does Fear of Being Single Drive Your Behavior?

So what I’m saying here is that it might be best for you to get out, and experience more of the world before settling down with this woman (or any other). I’d strongly suggest reading these sections under Midlife Dating Advice:

1) Fundamental Truths about Women and Midlife Dating Today

2) Midlife Bachelor Personal Makeover

3) Develop a Strategy for Midlife Bachelor Success

4) Reaching Midlife Bachelor Equilibrium

Now if you decide that you DO need to see other women, you should try NOT to burn your bridge with this current woman … who obviously feels bad about how things have turned out. You MUST REMEMBER that her situation is not your fault, nor is it YOUR SITUATION … it just is what it is, and each of you is going through something completely different. In other words, do not be afraid to move on just to keep her from becoming more unhappy. Each of us is in charge of our own happiness – we are not in charge of the happiness of others, although we can influence it.

I also want to address one other thing that you mentioned – sending her flowers the day after having sex. That is a nice touch – assuming you plan to stick around. Kudos to you on that. I suggest you read the Midlife Article here called,

When to Send a Woman Flowers

which also covers when NOT to send them flowers. Since you are a brand-new midlife bachelor, it will give you some things to think about concerning the sending of flowers. The article is especially useful for breakup situations – where you should NOT send them.

So my bottom line advice is – stay the course with her if and only if you REALLY FEEL seriously connected to her, but recognize that you, yourself, are in a REBOUND situation – and in that case, you might consider not getting tied down too quickly, and maybe dating a number of different types of women so that you can really see what is out there. You owe that to yourself at this point in your life.

Good luck – this is a very unique situation, so I believe we all would appreciate an update from you as things develop over time. You can use the COMMENT section below for that.

Avatar of Greg Smith
About the Author

Midlife Bachelor chronicles lifestyle, dating, and relationship experiences and advice to avoid a midlife crisis. Readers like you are often beyond young adulthood in their 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s that want to understand how dating, sex, relationships, and love fit in with our lifestyles.