Each week the Reckon Women newsletter includes a column from women in the South, in collaboration with See Jane Write. Click here to join the Reckon Women Facebook group.
By Carla Youngblood
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I reflect on my love life (well, the lack thereof) and wonder how I got here.
It was five years ago when my doctor said, “My advice is to remove them both.” That was her recommendation after my breast cancer diagnosis.
I took her advice and now I am living cancer-free. I had both breasts removed. The cancer was only in my right breast, but I wasn’t taking any chances of it coming back in the left.
I chose not to have reconstruction surgery. I’d heard too many horror stories. But I must admit I’d heard just as many success stories, too. Bottom line, I didn’t want any foreign objects in my body. I wasn’t having any surgery that wasn’t necessary to live. People live without their arms and their legs; people can live without their breasts. I am living proof. I opted for the prosthetics.
I was satisfied with my decision to use prosthetics then, but now I am having second thoughts because now I’m worried about what this could mean for my dating life.
Five years ago, when I decided not to have reconstructive surgery, my only concern was surviving and remaining in a calm state as I hoped the cancer would not return. Sharing my story on stage through my comedy routines provided the laughter and joy I needed. On stage, I helped others dealing with cancer by providing a different perspective. On stage, I joked about my prosthetics and said I was going to create a dating app called “Missing Parts.” Everybody on the site would be missing something. I might have to create that app, after all. Performing on stage is so cathartic. I even wrote a book about it, Cancer Ain’t Funny! Laugh Anyway…
Also, when I decided against reconstruction surgery, I was in a relationship. I never thought dating would be a concern of mine again. Boy, was I wrong! I wonder if my decision had anything to do with the relationship’s demise. Anyway…
With or without a relationship, I was committed to staying focused on reaching my five-year mark without the return of cancer. There is this uncertified rule that if your breast cancer does not return in five years it most likely won’t. No guarantees, but I can breathe a little easier now.
During the first five years, when someone asked why I wasn’t dating, reaching my five-year mark was my excuse. But the thought of dating would lightly tap dance across my mind. This past year was the hardest. The tap dancing became aggressive breakdancing in the midst of the pandemic.
Being alone during the pandemic has been like a roller coaster for me. Some days I am grateful for the solitude. Other days I think, if I don’t get out of this house, I am going to lose my mind. I go for walks thinking today might be the day I meet the love of my life. Someone to match my funny, honesty and desire to be in a committed relationship.
No more excuses. I want to date, but the idea of being rejected because of my body is frightening. Looking at me with my clothes on, no one can tell that I am wearing prosthetics. It’s not like missing a leg or an arm where people can visibly see. But talk about a surprise…
I’ve made up my mind that I want to be in a relationship more than I am afraid. I want to share my life with someone. Someone who will accept me as I am – including my battle scars. I see myself having someone to share my dreams and innermost thoughts with. Someone to love and laugh with. Someone to travel this journey of life with.
Over the past six months, I have signed up on three dating sites but deleted my profile within 24 hours. I want it to be organic. I see each day as an opportunity for love.
I am smart, funny, sexy, and ready to date. I am taking a stand; I will start dating when life permits. Sooner than later. Fear will not hold me back in any area of my life especially where love is a concern. Next year this time, I will have a Valentine of my own.
Carla Youngblood is a CPA, comedienne, author, motivational speaker, and podcaster. She enjoys being outdoors. Her goal is to make millions of people laugh including you!