Friday, July 03, 2009

Another kind of survivor

A friend of mine sends out a shidduch spreadsheet from time to time, with little thumbnail descriptions of available singles. One of them caught my eye this morning. Lives in Canada, 42 years old, Modern Orthodox machmir, but flexible about hair covering. He has smicha, but he runs a family business.

The only description of his personality was "wants someone who is open minded and spiritual." He sounds open minded and spiritual. A little more religious than I am, but after the date with DK, I'm looking for more rather than less religious than I am.

So I called his shadchanit this morning, chatted, and gave her my phone number. Less than an hour later he called me.

I was pleasantly surprised, and we had a great conversation. He thinks what I do for a living is cool. He Googled me and found all sorts of interesting information, including a link to the article I published. He didn't seem intimidated by my intelligence or my affinity for working with substance abusers, and he's a good conversationalist. He wasn't put off by my family background, which some people who were raised religious tend to disdain.

I guess he felt pretty comfortable talking with me, too, because he told me he's a cancer survivor. Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Diagnosed 12 years ago, in remission for 5 years.

Usually I'm better at reproducing the dialogue I have with others for your reading pleasure. I must be pretty freaked out, because I can no longer recall precisely what he said, what I said. I do remember he regretted springing this information on me in our first conversation. I tried to reassure him that I also have more than a few skeletons in my closet, but I usually don't let them out in the first conversation.

We left it that he will call again, and I'm open to meeting him. But I'm feeling kind of odd about this. Should I be worried that he had cancer? Should I be worried that he told me in our first conversation? Which is worse?
Copyright (c) "Ayelet Survivor"


  1. I would not be put off that he told you. I am sure that it looms large for him and he is wary of investing a lot in a relationship w/o seeing if the other person freaks out.
    Should you reject him because he has had cancer? That is a tough call. We all have various baggage and there is no guarantee of any sort w/any one in terms of health, livelihood etc. He could be fine for years. Or.....I'd give it a date or two and see how you feel. Although again, I understand your unease.

  2. I would tend to think that having the cancer is worse. Cancer tends to come back. Maybe not, but it can. I think the honesty is refreshing. I agree that it's not really in his best interest to say something on a first phone conversation, and maybe that could be a problem, but I find his honesty refreshing, and i wouldn't worry about his being overanxious just yet. The cancer I would.

  3. He sounds like a good guy. Don't reject him out of hand.

    None of us knows if we have five years, fifty years, or fifteen minutes left to live. If he's been in remission for some time, and he's been declared clean by his doctors, that's the best any of us get...

    Go for it. I approve of his up-front-ness, even though I'm sure it's worked to his detriment many a time. He probably needs to get past that in order to continue since so many people will begin building up a relationship only to tear it down once they hear it and as you said... "freak out."

    Open eyes, open heart... only God knows what lies ahead, but we make our own futures with our choices in spite of the things we cannot avoid.

    Love and blessings,

  4. It is definitely a little freaking-out to date someone who had cancer. I've done it. Less of an immediate concern is whether the cancer will come back or not- But something to consider is how any chemotherapy he had will affect his fertility. I know you want to have children; chemotherapy can affect fertility in males. you may want to find out more.