Cancer, love, sex and dating sites
Wednesday 20 April 2022
Karen discusses her experience of dating after a diagnosis of advanced bowel cancer.
Sometimes as a single cancer woman in remission from advanced bowel cancer I feel like a single bashed up tube of Pringles that nobody wants and has left on the supermarket shelf forever. That's how online dating feels to me.
I am in remission from advanced bowel cancer that spread into my vagina and lymph nodes. I also wear a colostomy bag.
I've been told I am an attractive woman, with very long mid brown hair and big green eyes and a friendly and warm smile. I have also been told I look in my early 40s, when actually I'm fifty one.
Despite wearing a colostomy bag, I still wear my skinny jeans and tight faux leather trousers. I love my make up, hair straighteners, nail varnishes and perfume.
I am an educated and intelligent woman. I have no problems attracting men on dating sites. I am open and honest about my cancer and can predict the moment when I go from potential girlfriend material to being friend zoned. 'Forever the friend, never the girlfriend' syndrome.
As a bowel cancer warrior survivor, I don't want to be hidden away, feeling ashamed and embarrassed because cancer got into my rectum, with having the infamous 'Barbie Butt' and now wearing a bag for life! I want to be loved by a man. As a woman we all want to be loved.
Truth is men only see me as being deviant, undesirable, not perfect but flawed, because of my stoma hole, scars and sewn up bum, but these things saved my life.
There is a certain amount of shame and stigma linked to having cancer hitting your rectum and wearing a colostomy bag. In this country anything linked to poo, wee and blood is often a taboo subject and an instant turn off for most men.
The number one question I get asked by men on dating sites are: "Can you still have sex?" Also "Will your poo bag thing leak all over me in the bedroom if we have sex?" And up there "Can I catch cancer?" Shocking I know but the harsh reality of being on these dating sites.
I won't even go into my vagina cancer, that's a whole new blog. I still feel ashamed and get embarrassed and the one cancer that men find equally as distasteful.
As a woman in remission from cancer and doing really well in my career, with a supportive network of family and friends, I am living life to the full and my best life ever. I practice self-love and daily affirmations. I think I am lovely and loveable.
And in the words of the Maroon 5 song "She will be loved". One day a man will see beyond the cancer and colostomy bag and love me for being the amazing person I am.