Haley’s story: Dating while being diagnosed with cancer


Haley Galvin

Haley Galvin with her boyfriend Matt.

By Haley Galvin

This is dedicated to my amazing and wonderful boyfriend Matt who I would be lost without. 

Let’s start this off light. Trying to date while going through chemotherapy is honestly super hard. I can’t go on a date just anywhere. I have a compromised immune system, and we are living in the middle of a pandemic. Fall and the holiday season are my favorite. I would love to go to a pumpkin farm and or ice skating, but I have to stop myself from doing those things. We can’t go on dates to some restaurants because they are too crowded or closed now due to Phase 4. I had to convince my boyfriend to take me to breakfast because I really wanted to go.

I have to be concerned for my health, and he is truly concerned for me too. He makes sure I’m staying safe, constantly reminding me to wash my hands and shower after being in a crowded place. 

I have always been a person who really loves to go out with their significant other. I like to go to dinner and go on fun adventures on weekends, but now I don’t have that option.

Most of the time I have with him is simply spent sitting at home watching a TV show or movie. Now don’t get me wrong, I love every second I spend with him, but it is different for me. I watch my friends go out with their boyfriends, and I wish I could do all of that without having to worry. I wish I could live a “normal” dating life. Instead, if I do go out, I have to take many extra precautions and always make sure myself and my boyfriend are using hand sanitizer after touching literally anything. 

Now onto a more serious note: 

Dating while being diagnosed with cancer is something I never thought I would have to deal with. I met my boyfriend about two weeks before I went to the doctor for the first time, and we were only dating for four days before I had my surgery. He got thrown into a very serious situation very quickly, and I honestly thought he would walk away. I wouldn’t have blamed him if he did. We were just getting to know each other so what incentive was there to stay and deal with all the heavy stuff I was going through? But he never wavered.

He stayed by my side through it all. He made me promise that as long as I kept fighting, he would too. And he has. I even told him it was okay to leave, but he refused. He has held my hand through every step. Letting me cry into him hundreds of times, leaving his shirt soaked with my tears. But he never cared. He lets me cry and he listens to every worry and feeling I have.

Every three weeks when I have chemotherapy, I feel so sick afterward, and without fail he comes over to take care of me. He takes his one day off of work and spends it sitting next to me, helping me eat or take medication. He rubs my back and comforts me when I feel I am about to get sick. Anything I need, he will do without me having to ask. He does all this on his only day off, and when I thank him, he always tells me I don’t have to. He would do it over again, and he does, every three weeks.

On days I feel physically OK, but I struggle mentally, he will let me talk about it. He always finds a way to make me smile by the end of the conversation. 

I was also worried that with the loss of my hair, he would find me less attractive. Every time I look in the mirror, I question if I am still beautiful. So if that is how I feel, I can only imagine he might think I am less beautiful as well. It was a really big struggle for me when I lost my hair and decided to shave my head. But he proved me wrong again. He still thinks I am beautiful, and tells me so all the time.

He always reminds me how amazing I am. He even shaved his head with me the first time I shaved mine. It was the hardest thing for me, but I wasn’t alone. He made sure to help me every step of the way. 

And I will never understand what I did to deserve him and all the help he gives me. 

I think every day of how grateful I am he came into my life and that he stays with me through all of this. I have some bad days, but, because of what he does, I know I’m not alone. I know I have someone by my side who truly cares about me more than anyone in my past ever has. Recently, he keeps asking how I am so strong. The truth is: I’m strong because of him and my support system. They are constantly lifting me up and helping me through it. 

I can’t imagine how tough this is on him. He has shared emotional moments with me about it all, but I will never understand how he feels and why he stays. He constantly reassures me it’s because he loves me, but I have never been loved that much before. What did I do to be loved this much? To be cared for this much? I only hope that one day I can return the favor. He makes me feel supported in everything I do and through every step on my cancer journey. On days I just need a laugh, I can count on him to have me in a fit of laughter in seconds.

So I want to say this to him:

Thank you from the absolute bottom of my heart. I don’t know why you do what you do. Why do you care for me so much after only knowing me for such a little amount of time?

I can honestly say, I have no idea how I would be doing it without you. I don’t like to ever admit I need help. I am a strong woman, but I’ve needed you throughout this journey. I wasn’t always someone who believed the universe gave us things, but I think you were brought into my life when I needed you. I am so beyond grateful you are here. You came into my life during a very dark and scary point, and you have brought joy and light to my heart. I can only hope that you stay. 

This journey has also shown me the person you are. You are one of the most caring and kind people with the most beautiful heart I have ever known. You are incredibly strong but gentle when you need to be. You have made this a bit easier. I don’t know if many people would be able to do what you do.

Words will never be able to be enough to thank you. I wish I could repay you for what you have done for me. I will do my best. Thank you for being patient with me and for loving and caring for me. I cannot say it enough. I absolutely love you. Thank you, Matt.