Dating with cancer

Dating with Cancer“Y’know, I’m not dead yet”

As heard on The Ryan Tubridy Show

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Dating with a terminal illness is not a topic that comes up every day. Sinéad Carroll wants to change that. Some years back, Sinéad had a benign brain tumour removed. Following chemotherapy, she made a great recovery and as she was about to turn 30, decided to head off on her travels. She explored Thailand and Australia for 3 years, including a 12 week stint in a Buddhist monastery learning about mindfulness.

In 2017, Sinéad was diagnosed with more tumours, some cancerous. She had radiotherapy and more chemo. This time around, she found the treatment much more unpleasant. She was offered more chemotherapy but decided against taking it.

Sinéad is feeling well right now, she’s enjoying life and ready to talk about living with a terminal illness – including what that might mean for her dating options.  Chatting to Ryan Tubridy today, she went straight to the heart of it:

“If you meet somebody and they have a terminal illness, are you going to get involved with them?” 

Sinéad went on a date with a guy around the time she got her first diagnosis. The next time they met, she’d lost her hair and was just getting used to wearing a wig. She was nervous about how it would go. The relationship continued for a bit, but then didn’t go any further. Sinéad sees it from both sides:

“It’s just difficult. It’s difficult for you as the person with the wig, and then difficult for the person sitting there with you.” 

How do you tell someone you like that you’re terminally ill? And when do you tell them? Not easy questions, but for Sinéad, it’s important to start having the discussion in the first place. She’s not claiming to have it all worked out. She just wants people to talk about it:

“What do you do? I don’t know how I would feel if I met somebody. Do you keep it to yourself until you think, okay, there’s longevity here, I need to be honest with the person? It’s a conundrum.”

Joking about the situation feels right to Sinéad, but she says it takes other people a little while to get used to her humour:

“Most people are not comfortable with you joking about it. Like I’ll say things like “I’m not dead yet”. I think it’s funny. You have to just get on with it.”

Right now, Sinéad’s keeping busy and making plans.  She’d still like to meet someone, but in the meantime life is full. Hobbies like the wood-burning craft of pyography allow Sinéad to connect with other crafters online. She loves hiking and plans to travel the Wild Atlantic Way.  She says she’s gained a new perspective on life through her illness and wants to spread the message about living slowly and living mindfully – in the truest sense of the word.

You can listen to Sinéad’s chat in full on The Ryan Turbidy Show here.

© The Listener 2019

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