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Love in the time of cancer

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  February 3, 2010 08:35 AM

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We chat at 1 p.m. today -- which is a good thing. This letter deserves some conversation.

Q: I am twenty-nine-years old. And I have cancer. Rumor is there's no such thing as a good cancer to have. But if there were, this one wouldn't be it. Apparently it's not new, but my knowledge of it is. My doctor found out three days ago, he told me two days ago, and with me it has stayed since.

Yes, I need to seek comfort in my family, with whom I’m close. And yes, I need to seek support from friends, of which I've many. But few things feel more awkward than pity. Further, I'm convinced they'll all take it harder than I and, as one might guess, I’m really not in the best place to be offering up emotional support right now. And yes, I realize my current attitude reveals me as not having dealt with my feelings, and I need to seek some counseling. Right. Points noted. But I have more pressing issues.

I have a date this weekend. It’s a fourth date. And she’s pretty stinkin’ cool.

O! meaningless relationships, I’ve had my fill of you. I filled right up on you all through my early/mid twenties, so that when I got to these years I could move into the good ones without thinking I’d missed out on you. And now, after several middling relationships, I’ve got myself a good one — a butterfly-flittering, toe-tingling, head-dizzying good one.

A good one who deserves to know I won’t be very good beyond another few years at best. At this age, good ones at some point start thinking about futures. I don’t have one.

So the end questions, I suppose, are these: At what point do I need to lay this out there? Whereas I’m hoping to find someone looking for a life partner, but know my payout on that lifetime thing isn’t going to be overly robust, do I need to seek a three-year partner? I’m pretty sure most folks my age don’t seek out three-year relationships, but rather end up with them when either (a) the lifetime thing fails, or (b) the meaningless month-to-month with option to renew overruns its course. Knowing I’m a pretty sure thing for the former, am I stuck with the latter from here on out?

– Seeking Balanced Meal, Stuck with Grilled Cheese?, Somerville

A: SBMSWGC, this one is a kick to the gut. You're sick. You're a fantastic writer. You're thoughtful about what you want and why. Your butterfly-flittering, toe-tingling lady is a lucky one. I wish you had the same luck.

Here's the weird thing about love and life -- we never know what's what. It’s all a gamble. I mean, I’m not a doctor (I don't even play one on the internet), but I do know that your future is up in the air, as is hers. You have a rough few years ahead of you, but that's all you know. Can we let everything about your future be a question mark? Can we let her place in your life be a question mark?

Tell your family and friends and then tell her everything. You have to. Perhaps she'll run in the other direction -- and that would be fair -- but there's a chance she'll want to be a part of this process (or go on a few more dates). Either way, she deserves to know. You won't be able to move ahead with her without coming clean.

If she leaves, well, I'm sorry. That would stink because it sounds like she's a great distraction and good company. But if she does stick around, be careful. Illness makes everything a big deal even when it isn't. Every conversation is important. Every kiss is passion. Every grilled cheese is a delicacy. It’s not necessarily a bad thing -- in fact, it's sort of awesome -- but it’s something to watch as you make choices about your future.

I hope you get better. And I hope she decides to go along for the ride for as long as you like each other. But if she bails, don’t take love out of your life. Keep looking. Fight your illness and search for companionship at the same time. Keep living. That's the point, right?

Readers? Would you want to know about his sickness? Can he develop a solid relationship while he's dealing with these health issues? Should she stick around? Share.

– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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