Skip to content

Awkward Auntie Question No. 2

dating after young adult cancer

Ever had a question about relationships or sex that you just can’t ask your oncology care provider?  Ever felt too shy to ask a nurse or doctor a question but really need the answer?  Now you can ask those questions and get answers from Dr. Anne Katz, the Awkward Auntie!

Q: I had acute lymphocytic leukemia as a toddler. I’m now 23 and healthy. I have a little scar on my chest from a surgery. I get questions about it when I’m at the pool or with a new partner. How could I best answer/deflect questions without making things awkward or ruining the mood? I don’t remember much of my treatment since I was so young, it’s always uncomfortable for me to explain. I usually say “I had surgery when I was little…” or “I had cancer when I was really little, but I don’t remember it” etc. (23 year old man.  ALL)

Awkward Auntie: Thanks for this great question. It sounds like you have dealt with this in a really good way. Just stating the facts without going into a whole long story is the best way to deal with questions like these. If the other person wants more details they’ll ask for them or they’ll just move on to something more interesting to talk about. You don’t even have to say ‘cancer’ … just stating that you had surgery when you were little and you don’t remember it is truthful and probably all that others need to know.

One way to deal with discomfort is to make a joke about it. “Oh this little scar? Small Game of Thrones accident” might work if you’re a GOT fan. Or perhaps “Oh that’s where Cupid’s arrow pierced me the moment I saw you”….

Some people get a tattoo to cover up the scar – but you have to find a tattoo artist who knows how to work with scars.

You can learn more about this great program, find the answers to past questions, and submit a question of your own by going here!

More about the Awkward Auntie program:

Dr. Anne Katz, also known as the Awkward Auntie, is a certified sexuality counselor and nurse who has written a couple of books about young adults and cancer* – and all the things that happen to your body, relationships, and sex during and after treatment.  She will be answering any and all questions that you send to or that you submit in the form below. You don’t have to give your name or other identifying information – but it might be helpful for her to know how you identify yourself by gender, your age and what kind of cancer and treatment you had.

YOU CAN ASK HER ANYTHING…. Don’t hold back!  Your questions will be answered periodically and posted on our Awkward Auntie page.