Posts Tagged ‘Body Image’

I hate Valentines day. Always have, always will. Here’s why. I’m not a fan of prescribed romance. Whether you’re hooked up or single, being told that you should be feeling love, lust or passion for someone on a certain day of the year is a recipe for disaster. Love doesn’t come in heart shaped box and my own experience of Valentines day isn’t exactly a bed of roses.

There are the ones who think that a Valentines meal is the perfect time to air all the grievances they have with your relationship – cue uncomfortable scene in restaurant; the ones who would rather be be buried alive than commit to any display of public affection; and those awkward ones you’ve just started seeing who suddenly become ‘unavailable’ on Valentines day lest it commits them to marriage, babies and a life in suburbia.

If you’re feeling sensitive about being single, Valentines Day is one of those dreaded annual events that reminds you of your non-conformity. Half of me strides haughtily down the fuschia-themed aisle in Sainsbury’s thinking ‘I’m glad I’m not part of that vomit-inducing consumer bullshit’, whilst the other half is being stabbed in the heart by a tear-stained rose. Sometimes I care, sometimes I don’t.

My favourite Valentines day ever, was one of those spontaneous nights that just kind of snowballed into something good. I went into Manchester with a friend to see Isobel Campbell at Night and Day. We hadn’t bought tickets, naively believing that we might get in. It had completely sold-out, so we went round the corner to Odd Bar. Here we encountered a pick-n-mix of after-work drinkers and misfits who had nothing better to do on a Tuesday night. Nobody copped off but there was a great cameraderie between people who were bonded by nothing more than the fact that they happened to be single on Valentines night. It ended up being a really great night.

Love definitely isn’t ‘in the air’ for me at the moment and my counsellor questioned me about relationships the other day. As you can imagine, having a relationship hasn’t been top of my priorities recently, and I have considered myself ‘off-the-market’ since my diagnosis in June 2012. Having cancer is a pretty legitimate excuse for being single. I’ve lost my hair (it has grown back), a breast (it won’t grow back but I’ve got a new one), my fertility (it won’t come back) and a lot more. Perhaps you’re worrying about being too fat or too thin but try throwing a mutilated body, infertility and a reduced life expectancy into the equation and suddenly that spare-tyre might not seem quite so important.

So how do you sell that one on Soulmates? At the moment I don’t care and my current priority is staying sane. I’ve only just come back to Manchester and I’ve been keeping myself busy with setting myself up with some cancer support. I thought I’d struggle to get support here, however the cancer support services in Manchester are really good. Along with my Macmillan support group, I’m also getting support from the Neil Cliffe centre at Wythenshawe hospital. Free massages on the NHS are one of the few perks of being a cancer patient.

I’m grateful for all the support the NHS has given me, however the one thing they can’t prescribe is a boyfriend. I was single before I had cancer so I can’t blame the disease for my marital status, however it does throw some interesting excuses into the mix. Aside from the scars and the asymmetry, I only have one nipple. On reflection this does seem like a daft excuse to take myself off the market. The nipple is next on my ‘to-do’ list.

I’ve never been a fluffy romantic however having cancer has turned me from a fantasist into a realist. I used to believe in unicorns and happy-ever-after, but the dreams I have now are firmly based in reality. Besides, life could be so much worse. I could be on a bad date in a crummy restaurant accepting a cheap rose from someone I never want to see again.

“I’m single because I was born that way.” – Mae West

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