I have written about the support that a partner/spouse provides to someone living with cancer—with prostate cancer and for young adults with cancer—and I always include the partner in discussions about treatment choice or sexual difficulties.
But a number of my older patients are single, and their experiences of facing treatment and survivorship alone are profoundly moving.
Around 50 per cent of cancer patients have an advanced form of the disease.
In many cases it has spread around the body from the original tumour, a process known as metastasis.‘You cannot use surgery everywhere to remove the cancer or do radiation in all the affected parts of the body or you will kill the patient’, Dr Durante told the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Boston.‘But if you could put the patient into synthetic torpor you could stop the cancer growing.
That would not be ethical of course—but I bet I would be successful in pairing some of them up . Dating these days seems to start with an online membership to one of the many dating websites out there.
That, in itself, is a challenge for many of my older patients who are not tech-savvy or at least not comfortable with posting a picture and completing an online profile.
It would also make treatment more effective, as inactive tissues respond better to radiotherapy.
While the ability to hibernate is present in animals such as bears and squirrels, it has been lost in humans.
But there have been several cases of humans surviving extreme cold, lending support to the idea that hibernation could be induced with drugs.
Nevertheless, encourage them to start off small, such as an informal group activity or social event.
These are opportunities to socialize and relax with friends in a way that can make meeting new groups of people feel less daunting.
Along with these challenges are a seemingly endless trail of thoughts and questions: When will I feel ready to start dating again? But no matter where a person is in their cancer journey, whether they have a new diagnosis, are in active treatment, or are posttreatment survivors, to have fears and concerns about dating and sexual intimacy is normal.