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Cancer Free and Heart Sick: Dating After A Serious Illness

"Ask April" Author of the best selling "Date Out Of Your League" at

Recovering Health But Losing Heart

Dear April,
I am a recovering cancer patient. Before I knew I had cancer I was in a relationship with a woman I am still deeply in love with. The problem was for approximately 10 months I wasn't getting any sleep. I am truly a nice guy but I wasn't acting like myself and couldn't see it. I was mean to her son (who I love like my own son), but I thought I was just giving tough love. While I was in the hospital I was truly changed. I think god did something to my heart while I was there. I really learned how to love people.

Well she fell out of love with me because of everything and was going to break up with me after my tour (I work 3 weeks on and 1 week off). I thought everything would be ok. She takes care of me while I’m recovering. I stay at my brother’s house. He works for the same company that I work for. i guess feelings developed between them. It hurts me a lot when he's home.

However, now she has seen a change in me and has developed some feelings for me again. It's like now she's in love with both of us I know about them but my brother doesn't know about she and I. I love my brother but I hate what he did to me. He had a whole world available to him but (I think she did wrong too, but she didn't know anybody else.)

He took the one thing that meant everything to me. So right now she has 2 boyfriends that she loves. I know it won't work out between them because she is a free spirit and he's a control freak. She is my best friend and that is the role I play when he is home. It's just so painful to watch.

She was holding me when I almost died at the hospital. I remember feeling her tears hitting my arm and chest as I was convulsing and this woman treated me like no other woman has. I'm the happiest guy in the world when she is around me. She's a wonderful, beautiful person inside and out. I asked her yesterday if we would ever get back together and she said there is a strong possibility.

What should I do? Just be patient and go crazy every time my brother comes home, or let her go. She is my only female contact. Or should I tell my brother my feelings for her and possibly have them both hate me. I'm really confused about this. I don't go back to work till December. I’m wondering now if she is staying with him so he won't kick us out of his house (I lost my house due to this illness.) What should I do?
My Brother and I Love The Same Woman


Dear My Brother and I Love The Same Woman,
You’ve been through a lot, and you’re appreciating life and love and how precious it all is. You’re also changing some of your ways because of what you’ve learned by being sick.

You’re very lucky to be alive, and to have a brother and a friend in this woman who take such good care of you. You’re also lucky to have a job. And if it sounds like I’m trying to show you that the glass is half full – not half empty – you’d be right! The upside of tragedy, like illness and cancer, is that you are given the opportunity to appreciate the life and love you do have.

What you need is my help in giving you a little organization to your life because you’ve just been through a confusing, life-threatening time, and with a little emotional and social house-cleaning, you’re going to see things more clearly.

First of all, you should know that it’s very common for two brothers or two best friends to fall in love with the same woman. This is the stuff of great literature, movies and opera. It’s also the source of a lot of television drama and comedy. And the reason for it is that if you have two men in close quarters with one woman – as you, your female friend and your brother are – there are going to be sparks, love, sex, complications and drama. It’s human nature.

It doesn’t sound like you’re in a position to move into your own apartment because you have financial stress and you need health care that you get from being in your brother’s house and from your female friend.

Therefore, I think that you should try and keep the peace with both of these people. This means that you are going to have to use your heart even more than you have been. You’re going to have to appreciate the love and kindness that these two people have showed you, and be thankful for the time you had with this woman when she was your girlfriend, and be very thankful for the grace and compassion that she’s showed you as a caregiver.

And….you have to let go of her as a lover and a romantic partner. Let her be your friend. Let her be your ex-girlfriend. Let her be your caretaker. Let her be your brother’s girlfriend. Let her be your lost love. Let her be the price you had to pay to realize how important life and being alive and allowing other people to love each other, and to love you in a platonic way is.

It’s pretty clear that the three of you are stuck in your lives and don’t get out much. You all may have good reasons for it, but you have to take care of yourself now, and focus on you, and as part of your recovery, find a way to get out and meet some other women.

Don’t blame your brother and your female friend for what they’re doing. Don’t blame them for being together because they don’t get out much, and just see each other so much that something was bound to happen. Don’t blame anyone. Just focus on your own health and recovery – not just physical -- emotional and mental, too – and that means meeting women.

And you don’t even have to go outside, In fact, you can meet them online in dating sites and chat rooms if you can’t get out. You can find cancer survivor groups in your neighborhood and online. You need to start making some friends and girlfriends outside of your brother’s girlfriend, your caregiver, and your ex-girlfriend. Be honest with these women you are meeting about your situation because by being honest, you will find intimacy in an appropriate partner.

I suspect that once you start getting female attention elsewhere, you will find that there are many wonderful women in the world who are available and more appropriate for you to love, than the woman you seem to be sharing with your brother.

Sincerely, April

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© April Masini. Making it happen for you!
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