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Saying "I Do" Is More Difficult For Childhood Cancer Survivors

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A recent article from CNN points out reasons childhood cancer survivors are about 20 to 25 percent less likely to get married.  Anne Willis, director of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship and a cancer survivor herself, discusses why the new research published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention does not surprise her.  She feels that childhood cancer survivors are often dealing with long term psychological and social issues and may have a hard time in the dating arena because of this. 

It seems some of the factors involved in whether the survivors marry is age of cancer onset and what type of cancer the child developed.  For example, the children who had brain tumors and survived were 50 percent more likely to never marry.  This may be because their cognitive abilities are sometimes impaired during treatments like cranial radiation and later find every day tasks more difficult to complete.

Another reason people may find it difficult to connect with others after suffering cancer is because they find it harder to relate to others that have not gone through the same kind of experiences they have.  Willis talks about a memorable discussion she had with other survivors about side effects from their treatment, "As we’re sitting around talking about our rashes, that was the first time that I felt like other people understood what I had gone through."

Whatever the reason, it seems there is a need for more support for survivors even after medical treatment is successful.  Dr. Nina Kadan-Lottick , co-author of the study, points out "We have some real-life indicators that the life experience of survivors is not where we’d like it to be."

What do you think of the research indicating childhood cancer survivors are less likely to marry?

What do you think should be done to ensure the quality of life for survivors is where it should be?

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  • fawnhollow By fawnhollow
    10.25.09  

    That is so sad. I know a few adults who had cancer in their teen years, and they are married, but childhood cancer may be different. It's hard to answer this question unless you know someone in this situation but I would guess that their are support groups for adults who survived childhood cancers, just like there are support groups for divorced people, former alcoholics, etc. I would suggest fostering these support groups both online and offline would help survivors meet and connect on this very personal experience they share.

  • msfriendly By msfriendly
    10.26.09  

    I really feel sad for those people. I would hope the American Cancer Society and hospitals would have some support groups and help for those people. I hope that anyone going through this gets the help they need to enjoy the rest of their lives and to be able to share their lives with someone they love.

  • CHRISTINE24666 By CHRISTINE24666
    10.27.09  

    It's so strange because I have felt the same way, that I cannot relate to people in general much less someone on an intimate level. I have married but it did not work out, now I do not want to marry again. Also, I never wanted children as a child and I still do not want them. I wonder if that is also affected by my having cancer at an early age?

  • JMaynard85 By JMaynard85
    10.28.09  

    Wow, I am blown away by this! I would think that people who have survived cancer would really have more of a second lease on life.. however I can in some ways understand that they have a hard time connecting.. they were really unable to learn some important skills due to being sick so early on. I hope that the Cancer society starts support groups as well

  • momagarry By momagarry
    10.29.09  

    WOw that is sad.

  • sassysami By sassysami
    10.29.09  

    I hope someday I will marry and I hope having cancer will not stop me. I Have been in remission for 5 years and still going on strong!

  • Alyssarae92293 By Alyssarae92293
    11.01.09  

    i agree with momagarry

  • farmerbrown2002 By farmerbrown2002
    11.02.09  

    I married my love that had cancer.He died 10 days later.I miss him terribly.Been 12 years,I have not remarried.Love for the time you have.

  • LivsMadMom By LivsMadMom
    11.10.09  

    I had childhood cancer and my now 8 year old had it too. I wouldn't say that it made us any different, just gave us a better appreciation for what we have. I think this might have more to do with chemo brain, than making someone anti social. It was a bit different when I was diagnosed because that was back when it was embarrassing or shameful, now it's a much better time.

  • AimeeAken By AimeeAken
    11.12.09  

    I think we should live everyday to the fullest. Anyone can come down with cancer anytime, but you still need to enjoy the time to the fullest you have on this earth. If you want to get married, do it. Enjoy the time you have if you find true love. I love that movie "A Walk to Remember". Often the times a doctor gives is not accurate. If you are happy and enjoy life you can live a lot longer than they say, or even fight it and survive. All cancers are different, but never give up.. or give up the things that are important to you in this life. Let them make the choices they want in life. No one should ever discourage someone who is going through anything like that. They should have positive people around them and support any decisions they make in life. Maybe they want to get married, maybe they will not. That is a choice for anyone whether you are sick or not.

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