“You know what, Jared? The answer to your question is no. I don’t have any ‘t*ts’ at all.”
It’s well known that online dating can bring up shockingly poor behavior — people in relationships pretending to be single, scammers looking for money, your garden-variety ghosting galore.
In July, 26-year-old breast cancer survivor Krista Dunzy encountered disrespect and misogyny from a potential “match” in his very first words.
A guy named Jared decided that his opening line to Dunzy would be, “You got big t*ts?”
Dunzy, who had a double mastectomy as part of her cancer treatment last year, decided not to let it go without setting Jared straight and attempting to create a teachable moment.
“You know what, Jared?” she responded. “The answer to your question is no. I don’t have any ‘tits’ at all.” She revealed her cancer history and explained her treatments — 16 rounds of chemotherapy and a month-long course of radiation, in addition to the surgery.
“Right now I have tissue expanders in my chest,” she said, regarding her in-progress postmastectomy reconstruction, “that will be switched with implants down the road. Do you have any idea what it was like for me to read that message from you?”
“Please think about things before you say them,” she urged him. “I hope if you have a daughter, she never gets messages like these.”
Unfortunately, Jared decided to ignore the lessons offered and to double down instead.
He called Dunzy “an idiot” and “crazy,” claiming not to have read her message, advising her to “stop acting like a feminist,” and adding, “I make my own rules” — something that, on the other hand, he clearly didn’t want Dunzy claiming her right to do.
At this point, Dunzy had had enough. She screenshot the exchange for a public post on Facebook, encouraging others to share it and creating the hashtag #dontdatejared.
Her post went viral and was shared over 2,000 times.
“Some people said to me, ‘It’s Tinder. What did you expect?’” Dunzy recalls. “The answer is, I expect common decency. You shouldn’t ask anyone that. We should all be treating people better than that.”
She adds that if Jared had offered his opening “greeting” but then backed off after her reply, she too would have let the matter rest.
“Honestly, it was not even his opening line that made me want to do this,” she says. “It was his responses to what I told him. He could have dropped the whole thing after I answered, but he refused to.”
Catching up with Dunzy to discuss her time in the viral spotlight, we discovered a young woman wise beyond her years, with depth that this ‘Jared episode’ could only hint at.
Dunzy is Native American — a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation, in Oklahoma. She works at the Tribe’s headquarters in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, as a receptionist in its Family Violence Prevention program. The program assists both Native and non-Native people in situations of domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault.
“I myself have experienced both domestic violence and sexual assault,” Dunzy says, “so working here is all the more important to me. Through my work, I have learned that 84.3% of Native women experience violence against them in their lifetimes . . . that is a situation that we absolutely have to change.”
Though she’s tested negative for known genetic mutations that raise breast cancer risk, Dunzy does have a family history of the disease. Her mother went through breast cancer treatment several years ago, and a close cousin died from the disease.
“She passed away one year and one day before I was diagnosed,” Dunzy says.
Her mother’s diagnosis spurred Dunzy to make critical changes in her life. She had been living with a partner for a year and a half when her mother received the news, but the relationship was an abusive one.
“My mother was diagnosed, and within a week or two I had moved out,” Dunzy recalls. “I realized I owed it to my mom. I needed to stand up for myself, as she had taught me to.”
Given her family history, Dunzy’s doctors advised her to do regular breast self-exams. One of these led to the discovery of cancer in her right breast.
“I was lying in bed one night and felt like I needed to do this, needed to check,” she says. “And I found the lump.”
She was only 25 at the time and, understandably, did not immediately assume she had cancer.
“I waited weeks to do anything about it,” she says. “I was rationalizing, knowing it could be other things. But then I told my mom, and she very clearly told me — pretty much ordered me — not to wait to get it checked.”
Once Dunzy set the wheels in motion, things moved fast: There were only 5 days between her appointment with her GP about the lump and her diagnosis of breast cancer, in March 2018.
After that, though, some wait time did set in as Dunzy and her doctors pursued the diagnostic details.
“The worst part was not knowing my pathology and stage,” she remembers. “I waited a week before hearing that.”
After further scans and tests, doctors told her the cancer was stage 2 and positive for estrogen receptors (“fueled” by estrogen, which would affect the treatment recommendations Dunzy would receive).
Once she’d started chemo, Dunzy found her thoughts traveling often to her beloved cousin, whose life had been cut short by breast cancer.
“I felt very connected to her, closer to her,” she remembers. “I thought about what she had gone through. It was in a way a very profound time, and spiritual. Superficial things disappeared. I saw myself at the bare minimum, with so much stripped away — no hair, no eyelashes or eyebrows.
“And then I was able to tell myself, ‘Stand up straight — you’re still you inside.’”
As is often the case with a health crisis, some of Dunzy’s friendships were strengthened in the face of her ordeal, while others fell away.
“Cancer brought me a lot of self-reflection,” she says, “and perspective is gained by experience. Some people were great at every step. Others weren’t really able to deal with it.”
Regardless of how anyone else responded, Dunzy’s relationship with herself was greatly strengthened by her experience. “I know myself better than some people get to know themselves at any age,” she says.
As for the future, Dunzy’s goals are for herself and her community.
She took a break in her formal education after high school but would like to continue with it. “I want to go back to school and continue working for my tribe,” she says. “I want to help other women. I want to use my knowledge and empathy to help others.”
Dating-wise, too, she is looking ahead — but she’ll never again compromise herself for a relationship.
And for Dunzy, that means not just standing up to the “Jareds” of the world, but coming from a place of self-love, regardless of how others receive her.
“My goal is to be unapologetically me,” she says. “Down the line, I’d be happy to marry someone who’s my best friend and have a family. But first I want to figure myself out more.”
When traumas she has experienced threaten to overshadow her present and future, Dunzy tries to meet them head-on.
“I am timid about dating, because of experiences in my past,” she says. “But I also find joy and beauty in everything, in part because of all of my experiences.”
And after all she’s endured, her resilience shines through.
“I have respect for myself,” she adds, “even [when] someone else doesn’t.”
Pamela Rafalow Grossman lives and writes in Brooklyn, New York. Her work has been published in the “Village Voice,” Salon.com, “Ms.” magazine, Time.com, Self.com, and other outlets. She’s an 11-year survivor of breast cancer and active in patient advocacy organizations.