Nothing stifles the romance in your relationship like going through cancer treatment. You’re both struggling with a range of emotions, not to mention the physical effects of treatment. Dates for cancer patients are important times to take a break, reconnect as a couple and enjoy yourself for a little while.
So what can you do to keep the romance alive, especially at Valentine’s Day? People with cancer often have challenges, such as food restrictions, isolation protocols or overwhelming fatigue, making it hard to do some of the things you once loved. Keeping things simple and heartfelt can have the most meaning.
Making the Most of What You Can Do
Sometimes cancer treatment means you’re not able to do exactly what you want. Maybe you aren’t able to go to the new restaurant down the street, but you can make the most of what’s within your means and doctor’s guidelines.
When Beth Wilson was undergoing treatment for leukemia, she was in protective isolation for the first six months. After that time, she still had many restrictions on where she could go out to eat. Despite these challenges, her husband wanted to do something nice to celebrate her birthday.
“My husband planned a black tie event for my birthday,” she says. “All my friends came over, and we dressed up. Then we went out to eat at IHOP because it was one of the few restaurants that met my restrictions. It was so much fun, we did it again the next year when I wasn’t restricted.”
Even though they only went to a casual diner, it was the fun act of getting dressed up and enjoying the company of friends that made Beth’s birthday truly special.
Take Time for Each Other
You struggle with the physical changes from cancer. Your significant other struggles with feeling powerless to help you. Date night means shutting all that off. Dress in a way that makes you feel good and do things you enjoy.
Maybe you read to each other, dance to your favorite songs, go see a movie or revisit the site of your first date. Do something you loved as a kid, like visit the zoo, play miniature golf or laser tag, or take your chances at an escape room. The most important thing is to set aside time to simply be a couple and enjoy being together.
Mandi, a blogger for Darn Good Lemonade, set up date-night Popsicle sticks, an idea she found on Pinterest. She and her husband wrote date ideas that worked for their situation — bowling, movies, cooking dinner at home, driving to see a sunset — on individual sticks. Then, once a week, they chose a stick.
You can also take a quiet night in for intimacy. Sex during cancer treatment isn’t always enjoyable, so you may need to find other ways of being intimate. Have a date night to try massages, sensual touching or different positions.
Take Time Away from Each Other
Maybe your significant other has been amazing through your cancer journey, and the best thing for both of you is to have a night out with friends rather than each other. Surprise your significant other by organizing a poker night at home or tickets to an event with his closest friends. Your friends might feel like they don’t know how to help you, and organizing fun events gives everyone a chance to act normal for a while.
Planning dates for cancer patients doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive, just thoughtful. Dates bring back a sense of normalcy along with intimacy while re-establishing connections that get lost in the day-to-day responsibilities.
If you're feeling isolated by your cancer treatment, know that you aren't alone. Reach out to a counselor at UVA Cancer Center to work through your feelings.Learn More