Starting a relationship

I'm single and living with cancer. I want to be in a relationship but I'm worried nobody will be interested.

Advice columnist and relationship expert Matt Whyman answers:

This can be a worry for many young people whether they've had cancer or not. The key is in how to manage that worry constructively.

Be yourself

Clinical psychologist, Kate Hancock says that living with cancer can make you feel more sensitive to the issue: "Some people worry they aren't attractive because of side effects from treatment. Others worry they won't have much to talk about because they've had so much time out of their social life due to lengthy treatments."

It's easy to look at couples and feel that being single is somehow a lesser status. But a relationship won't automatically make you happier or more complete, that has to come from within. But you can take responsibility for the way you feel about yourself.

No matter what you're going through now, it's important to identify aspects of your personality that others like and admire. When people take notice of these things, from the way you smile to your generous nature, it can be a confidence boost. What's more, it'll help you to relax in their company, and let your personality shine. This is what counts when it comes to making a positive impression.

More than your diagnosis

Kate adds: "You could be pleasantly surprised to find that new boyfriends or girlfriends are not as bothered as you might expect. It's important to remember that as a person, you're much more than your cancer diagnosis."

There's some truth in the saying that people find love when they stop looking for it. So for now, focus on being yourself rather than being single. Not only will you feel more relaxed, someone special could pay attention for all the right reasons.

There's no rush

Social worker Simon Darby offers this advice: "Going through treatment is a time when you need to focus on looking after yourself. You might decide to put dating on hold for now and focus on it later, after your treatment is finished."

Lucia, a 25-year-old who's had cancer says: "A lot of your friends may be starting relationships for the first time and it can feel like you're left out because of your illness. The most important thing is to concentrate on yourself and being comfortable in your own skin, not what other people may think."

Content added: November 2015
Review due: November 2017