Dr. C: Want to go out sometime? By the way, I have cancer
Dr. Nikhil Joshi attempts to navigate both dating and chemotherapy
"Dr. Joshi," I say to myself, "You are officially the worst cancer patient in the world."
It's 3 a.m., the bars have closed and I'm capping off an evening that included eating out, drinking wine, karaoke and a night cap.
It's probably obvious to all of you that someone undergoing chemotherapy for cancer, shouldn't be awake, let alone out at 3:08 in the morning.
But, as usual, I don't care, and I rejoice in this amazing night that has presented a most interesting and puzzling situation.
I've thought twice about sharing this. But then, I thought there are most likely more than one of you who have had a serious disease and know the joy of breaking all the rules.
A great Friday night out
My story begins at a restaurant with six friends, a place I should already not be.
I eat, I drink, I laugh and I feel normal on a Friday night.
And I'm dressed up. I need to remind myself that I'm still capable – ahem – of looking great.
We enjoy a wonderful meal, and the night is still young, so we venture to karaoke.
That's when I see her. She's wearing a blue dress and a leather jacket. Her hair is curly, her eyes so green, and I know already that I'm attracted to her.
A great song comes on, and I ask the vision in blue to dance.
We do, everything is magical, and I ask her for her name and phone number. I walk out of the bar feeling elated.
But then it hits me.
"You idiot!" I say to myself. "What are you going to do? You're getting chemo next week. You're going to fit in a date before that?"
What to tell her?
She's already added me as a Facebook friend, so she'll see the litter of posts I've made about chemo, cancer and my blog.
So, am I going to be able to hide my cancer from her? Am I drunk enough to think she won't care that I'm getting chemo?
It's a sobering situation.
I can't hide that I have cancer, but I don't particularly want to lead with that bit of info when I meet an attractive woman, and I can't pretend like I don't want someone in my life. So what exactly am I supposed to do?
First of all, you generally don't meet single women in the chemo unit. It's not exactly the place for romance.
Secondly, I want to be normal more than anything – but right now I'm not.
I'm not my usual self
I'm not regular me. Whether I like it or not, I'm fragile cancer me. And if I continue to carelessly disregard fragile cancer me, I might just die.
That would be enormously selfish. It's one thing to die of cancer because your tumour burden is just too great, but it's quite another thing to die because you decided to eat sushi and drink wine and party on a cold night.
I take a cab home and think about the woman in the blue dress. I need to be realistic. Chances are this isn't going to work.
But if I stop trying, then what's all this for? What does all the struggle and chemo mean if I don't act like myself?
It's one thing to lose the game, but it's quite another thing if I don't play because I'm scared.
I'll text her tomorrow and see where the chips fall.