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Love and Cancer

by Arely AcunaSurvivor, NeuroblastomaFebruary 15, 2021View more posts from Arely Acuna

I fell in love for the first time at 21 and it was that type of unreal type of love, the kind you only see in movies… love at first sight type of love. I had never experienced that before so when I say I fell hard I fell all the way. We met at work and even though I had feelings for him I never pursued those feelings because I did not think anyone would ever be interested in someone like me. At the time I was working but I was basically limited to using only the left side of my body due to what we now know was Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN).

All my life I thought no one could ever love me because of my constant physical and mental battles. To my surprise he one day asked me for my phone number and from there we were inseparable.

We were friends for about seven months before he asked me out on a date and then asked me to be his girlfriend. I could not believe that someone actually wanted to be with me. Naturally I was very hesitant I knew I wasn’t like any other girl he had ever met. Even though I did not want to I had to have some very open and honest conversation about what being with someone like me would be like. We had to talk about my cancer and mental health history… we had to talk about all the current health issues I was dealing with… and the hardest thing to talk about was my fertility issues. I was so open and honest with him from the beginning because I honestly thought that if I was 100% honest either he would leave me alone or it would make us work in the long run. Boy was I wrong about both.

After those difficult conversations he said he could handle it that he was ready to be with me and he was serious about a long-term relationship with me… and I fell for it. Just seven months after we started dating, I had an emergency total thyroidectomy which we later found out was cancer. I should have seen the signs then that it would not be for the long run, but I was so deeply in love with him that I ignored the signs.

Fast forward six years and I went through the biggest heartbreak of my life. All my fears that I had in the beginning of my relationship came true… he asked for a separation while I was a thousand miles from home waiting to find out if I needed surgery to remove a brain tumor because he could not handle the stress of my illnesses. Eventually, due to decisions he made I was left with no choice but to walk away from him. He had betrayed me in the deepest way, and I had no option but to leave. Once again cancer had taken from me but this time it took away the person, I loved the most.

I gave him six years of my life all for him to wake up one day and decide he could not be with me because cancer was too hard for him… for him it was too hard yet I’m the one sprouting tumors left and right and being forced to try all sorts of surgeries and treatments. It was too hard for him but I’m the patient… he could run away but I have to stay and fight? How is that fair?

If your everyday normal people love doesn’t come with a handbook, why would I expect there to be a handbook for someone like me. If every day average couples don’t make it how could I expect my relationship to make it? How can I ever be expected to be truly loved after experiencing this because in my case cancer isn’t going anywhere… cancer will always be a part of me, and I have no choice in that.

All I ever wanted was to be loved and cancer you took that from me.

All of the posts written for Elephants and Tea are contributed by patients, survivors, caregivers and loved ones dealing with cancer.  If you have a story or experience you would like to share with the cancer community we would love to hear from you!  Please submit your idea at

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