After getting a cancer diagnosis, I joined Ashley Madison. Being in a relationship with a married man gave my life meaning.

After getting a cancer diagnosis, I joined Ashley Madison. Being in a relationship with a married man gave my life meaning.
Arif Qazi / Insider
  • I'm 35 and go to church every Sunday.
  • After getting a diagnosis of kidney cancer in 2020, I decided to live my life to the fullest.

Editor's note: The author submitted this essay on the condition she remain anonymous so as not to identify the person she's dating. Her identity is known to Insider.

I'm 35 and from the Midwest. I go to church on Sundays, and I'm really close to my family. I'm also in a relationship with a married man, and I'm having the best time of my life.

Like many other single women, I've been on all the dating apps: Tinder, OkCupid, Hinge — you name it, I've been on it. I just wasn't connecting with anyone, and that gave me dating fatigue.

Then, in 2022, I joined Ashley Madison, the dating site for married people. Two years earlier I'd been diagnosed with kidney cancer. I have Lynch syndrome, a hereditary condition that can increase your risk of cancer if you're under 50.

Instead of getting down on myself about my diagnosis and hating the world, I decided to live life to the fullest. I realized I didn't want to live in fear, so I embraced my love of exhibitionism and posted photos of my body. I felt empowered.


But something was still missing from my life: sex.

I joined Ashley Madison looking to have fun

I didn't want a fling, a one-night stand, or a boyfriend — I just wanted to embrace my sexuality and have fun.

I started talking with an interesting guy, and we quickly became friends. I knew he was married, but I didn't mind; I wasn't looking for a relationship. He was available to me and made time to connect with me.

We hit it off and discovered we have very similar interests. He enjoys the daddy-dom lifestyle, which I love. It allows me to let go and enjoy the moment. He makes time for me and provides me with pleasure. He's even willing to change his routine to make me happy.

After meeting so many wrong men, I found the one for me. It's been life-changing — I'm living a life opposite the one I was raised to live. As a child I was taught that in a nuclear family, a man and a woman fall in love, get married, and have children. I was told that having an extramarital affair was wrong and sinful and wasn't something a "proper" woman would do. This type of relationship scared me since it implied that if I cheated, I was a bad, condemned woman.


But when my doctor told me I had cancer, I feared the end of everything. I walked away thinking I'd do anything once to experience it — fear, guilt, and shame be damned. I looked at the elements of my life where I wasn't happy. Then I chose to get what I wanted and desired, no matter societal norms.

I enjoy my life

It surprises me that I'm not scared anymore, nor do I feel shame. On the contrary, I enjoy my life now. If you'd told my 25-year-old self that this would bring me fulfillment, she would've probably recoiled and never believed it.

I don't openly tell people I'm dating a married man, but I don't hide it either. I pick and choose who knows. My platonic life mate was naturally concerned about my safety and well-being. She also doesn't understand why I'd want to live this lifestyle after she was cheated on, which destroyed her marriage. But despite her wishes, hopes, and prayers for me, she realizes my choices are my own and respects my right to make them. And as my life mate, she loves me regardless of what happens.

I have an easier time with my family. My parents passed away before I was 28, so I have only my twin sister and brothers to worry about. My sister will always accept and love me for who I am, and my brothers honestly couldn't care less about my love life.

As for my health, I'm in remission and due for another CAT scan next year to make sure I'm still cancer-free. But as long as I have my man and my platonic life mate, I'll be OK.