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Dating in the Age of Cancer

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In this age of longer lifespans, cancer, and medical technology multiplying as if it, too, is a cancer, dating takes on new challenges.

You’ve probably seen the online dating forms –

Have kids?
Want kids?
Smoke? How much?
Drink? How much?
Religious preference?
End of life wishes?
Willing to be the primary caregiver of a decade-long terminal patient?

Baby Boomers with longer life spans and more carcinogens everywhere we turn – today’s singles of a certain age are dealing with new issues when the hormones squirt and Cupid finally brings you together with the love of your life.

It’s pretty common for budding romances to address the issue of whether both people want to have children.

But, as a second childhood sneaks up on many people in their final years, or that fallout from the Nevada Nuclear Test Site (back when) spawns terminal cancers, or cell phones breed brain tumors like mushrooms in a forest after a rain, shouldn’t we add new questions for potential life-partners?

They could be something like this:

1. If you were diagnosed with a terminal disease, would you

a. aggressively seek every possible treatment, no matter the cost or side effects?
b. seek only low-cost natural treatments?

c. let your body die a natural death at its own pace, and take only painkillers as needed?

2. If your partner was diagnosed with a terminal disease, and he or she chose to aggressively seek every possible treatment, no matter the cost or side effects, would you be willing to devote yourself as the primary caregiver for the rest of his or her life, even if was more than ten years?

a. Yes, to me that is the definition of “true love.”
b. I would do whatever is necessary to “get on with my life,” even divorce, and let public assistance take over.
c. I would pretend that it could never happen to us, and curse our bad luck if it did.
d. I have spent my life caring for terminally ill people and choose not to do that for an extended period of time.

3. How important is health insurance to you?

a. I plan my life around having good health insurance.
b. I chose not to have health insurance because I believed that the medical industry would only be bad for my health. When it is my time to go – so be it. But, if I am bleeding, please put on a tourniquet.
c. I feel better knowing I have a basic health plan.

4. If you were diagnosed with a terminal illness and decided to aggressively seek every possible treatment, no matter the cost or side effects, would you expect your partner to drop everything and be your primary caregiver for the rest of your life?

a. Hell, yes. I would come back to haunt them if they didn’t!
b. I would worry that the strain was too much on my partner and would prefer to have trained medical attendants, even if I didn’t understand their accent very well. As long as they are capable and kind.
c. I can’t deal with thinking about any of this. It’s too scary.

Shouldn’t computer dating services, like eharmony and match.com, add questions like these to their questionnaires?

What if you and your heartthrob meet in another way? What dating etiquette article will tell you when it is time to bring up these questions during your courtship? What wise grandmother will have experience in this? Searching Google and asking my friends brought me no answers.

This seems to be uncharted territory, as if we are playing with all wild cards.

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About Lynette Yetter

Lynette Yetter is the author of the books "72 Money Saving Tips for the 99%" and "Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace, a novel." Lynette is a permanent resident of Bolivia and a graduate student in the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies Program at Reed College.
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