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Divorce, Starting Over, and Dating after Cancer

LisaD67
Posts: 26
Joined: Jan 2009

Five years ago I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Renal Cell Carcinoma, stage 2 of 3. I had a partial nephrectomy of my right kidney. About a year after, my ex husband had an affair, that's why he's my ex. He was never supportive and wouldn't allow me to talk about the cancer. He said, "If I talked about it, it meant I wanted it to come back!" Yeah right, that was a horrible thing to say. As of now I am cancer free, but will be taking tests soon. Like I typed above, I have entered the dating world. But it's like when I tell the person I meet that I am a cancer survivor they run the opposite way. I am going through so many emotions, none good. I want to be honest with people. I mean this is a part of my life and always will be. If anyone has any advice for me, I would really appreciate it. I am 42 years old and do not want to live the rest of my life without a special man by my side.

JH32
Posts: 19
Joined: Nov 2008

What is it about cancer that makes spouses cheat? I am one year into recovery and it hasn't been easy on either of us. 24 years of marriage which I thought/think is a strong one. Then I started getting bad vibes about a friend of ours (who knew I had cancer) and confronted my wife and she confessed that they had an affair. At the lowest point of my life she steps out. Cries and is very remorseful- but has anyone else been able to forgive such a thing? Just when I needed her most.

Nanb
Posts: 1
Joined: Jul 2009

I finished my chemo in Dec. after 6 rounds of chop+r. My husband of 41 years didn't help and always made plans to be out of town working. I really don't know what he was/is doing. After my 2nd treatment I told him that if he didn't help thru the last 4, I was done. We have been separated since Oct. He has been mean and hateful thru all of this. I have never needed anyone more. I live 3 hours from my family and friends. He has moved back to our hometown, while I am trying to sell our house. I don't know if cancer turned our spouses into jerks, or it just magnifies their true nature. I am very lonely and alone, but I think I am better off alone than with someone who always put himself first. JH32 you just have to figure out if she did this when you needed her the most, what does she have to offer at this point? Hope you come up with the right answer for you. Peace, Nancy

JH32
Posts: 19
Joined: Nov 2008

Nancy-
I swing back and forth between thinking that alone would be better- seems like at least the issues to be dealt with would be more consistant. It is so hard because I didn't realize until going through cancer/treatments how much it affects everyone. On my good days I forgive her because we are all humans and make mistakes. On the not so good days it seems unacceptable that someone would do it at that time of their partners life. I say to myself that I could never do that....but we really don't know until the situation arises. There really are very few if any black and white decisions.

I am quoting someone from another post but it is so true- 'you never know how strong you are until being strong is the only answer'. Thank you so much for being open with me. I feel for your loneliness- but you are not alone. So many of us feel the same way. Today I feel 'strong' enough to decide what's best for me, and at this point it could be staying with her or moving on- but either way it has to feel right. I admire you for making such a tough choice. Peace back at you- Jim

LisaD67
Posts: 26
Joined: Jan 2009

Forgive or Forget. My ex was hurt at work in '93. I worked full time, took care of him, two kids, my mom who was ill for 9 years before passing, paid bills, took care of the house, brought kids to sports and dancing and all he did was ride around drinking and taking his pain pills. I even did all of this having cancer for a year and didn't know I had it. He never supported me or even let me talk about it. He said if I talked about it, it meant I wanted it to come back. I, too, had a feeling something was going on and saw on the cell phone bill my intuition was right. He was calling her on his birthday, our anniversary, christmas etc. and "CHEATING!" I got a lawyer and filed for divorce. And to make matters worse he was horrible to me and the kids, but mostly me. I deserve better, way better. Lisa

tasha_111's picture
tasha_111
Posts: 2041
Joined: Oct 2008

The answers on this and other boards have helped me find the strength to throw him out, at last! Thank you all so much for putting it into words that made sense to me.

After 3 years of putting up with the abuse, I acted at last. He left last night, all I feel is a great sense of relief, and a bit tearful..I don't know why.

Onward and upward....

Hugs Jxxxxxxxxxxxxx

LisaD67
Posts: 26
Joined: Jan 2009

You don't deserve or need that abuse. Good luck to you. And we're all here for you. Lisa

tasha_111's picture
tasha_111
Posts: 2041
Joined: Oct 2008

Lisa and everyone in here, Thank you so much for the Kick up the arse I needed to end this bloody torture;.

Huge Hugs Jxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

daisy366's picture
daisy366
Posts: 1493
Joined: Mar 2009

Kudos to you runrummer!!

I too have noticed that I am less anxious about things now - like public speaking which used to terrify me. Now, every day is a gift.

Blessings to all,

Mary Ann

maya00i's picture
maya00i
Posts: 43
Joined: Jun 2009

He's still here. Will not look for a job all he does all day is play poker on the computer and talk to his girlfriend. I am on depression meds right now.

lindaprocopio's picture
lindaprocopio
Posts: 2022
Joined: Oct 2008

First, let me say sincerely 'hooray for you!!' You deserve so much better. That man definitely falls in the 'no big loss' category. Still, I know how hard is is to step out into the unknown, even when the 'known' is awful.

Now, you just have to explain your photo to me, since the curiosity is driving me crazy. I just can't figure out what you're up to in that photo? ((((BIG HUGS))))

tasha_111's picture
tasha_111
Posts: 2041
Joined: Oct 2008

After a nice bottle of celebratory Vino Collapso I was Pole Dancing with my tree. Don't worry, I'm not dangerous! LOL

Hugs Jxxxxxxxxx

JH32
Posts: 19
Joined: Nov 2008

Linda-
First off I love your picture- you look like a proud, beautiful woman. Is it too personal to ask what unknown you stepped off into?
I have been having some very bad days over my wife's affair. Just feels like a hammer on each side of my head- just as I get a grip on my cancer I get smacked by the hurt of her unfaithfulness, and visa versa. I had radical prostate surgery and am not fully recovered yet which includes my ability to be intimate. At times it is unbearable that my wife was with someone else and that I'm not sure I'll ever be able provide that for her again.
Cancer is uglier and more painful then I could have ever imagined. Was stepping away from your situation truly worth it? This would be easier if I didn't love her, or if she was cruel.
Not sure how to get out of this pit- Jim

zahalene's picture
zahalene
Posts: 624
Joined: Nov 2005

You were not speaking to me in the above post but if you don't mind I would like to respond to your situation.
My 28 year marriage did not survive cancer (mine). Oh, we went on for awhile after I was out of treatment but it was not a healthy situation.
The fact was, (Oh, I am a female, forgot you can't tell that by my screen name) he just was not committed to me or the marriage unless it was providing him with what he wanted. I lost both breasts. Enuf said?
I can't comment on your wife's mind set, obviously, but when 'for better or worse' becomes about as worse as it can get, that's when the feathers hit the fan unless there is an under girding in the relationship that is strong enough to bear up under the stress.
In retrospect, I can see that he had been dissatisfied for a long time even before I got sick. But that doesn't help much after the fact. My marriage did not survive because he did not want it to, and was not willing to do the work needed to preserve it. That is really the bottom line. When a relationship is damaged it takes time and work and tears and honesty and renewed commitment to repair it. And since you are already in a fight for your life, you may not be able to find the resources to slay this dragon too. I would suggest intense professional help for the two of you. Provided you are both willing of course. Otherwise it will be an exercise in futility.
You say it would be easier if you did not love her. I understand that, believe me. Love is a commitment and some of us are just not capable of going back on our commitments. And some of us are not capable of keeping them. It is just very sad when these two types of people end up married to each other.
God bless and I really do hope you and she can work things out and come to a good place together again.

JH32
Posts: 19
Joined: Nov 2008

Zahalene-
This really is an open forum, so thank you for adding to it. I am truly sorry for what you went through, both with the cancer and your ex. I hope the cancer portion is conquered.
I read in a number of posts that 'you're better off without him/her'- but that is a hard one. I try to think that if the cancer hadn't been in the equation and she did this what would I do? I believe I'd be trying to work through it, so we are going to try now.

Did you begin to start thinking totally about what was good for you before breaking off the marriage? When I think that way and not worry about how she leads her life I think I could make it on my own. The scary part is thinking that I would be alone, for good. The reality is that if we/she can't commit to fidelity and faith then it is over. Did you try professional help? We are scheduled for counceling next week and having never gone through it not sure how helpful it can be.

I hope you have found peace, and someone else if that is what you want. Though our cancers were different I feel your pain as too what it did to our bodies. I think back to one of my last CT scan appointments and as I sat there feeling sorry for myself a mother pushing her 10 to 12 year old son in a wheel chair came around the corner. Poor kid had tubes all over, no hair and had obviously been through hell- made me realize that at worst I had 40 years of extra life than he and to look outside my self pity shell. Still doesn't take all the pain away but puts it in some perspective.
Peace to you and thanks for being honest- Jim

zahalene's picture
zahalene
Posts: 624
Joined: Nov 2005

for the good wishes.
First of all, I am a 23+ year breast cancer survivor. I was first diagnosed in 1986 (at age 38), again in 1988, and a third time in 1996. I am just fine now and turned 61 this summer. My marriage has been over for 13+ years, so I have had some time to think through both issues from the perspective that distance offers.
My ex was the one who broke off the marriage, like a bolt out of the blue, so I had no chance to prepare for it at all. He was not interested in counseling or anything that might have helped the situation. He just wanted OUT.
I had an 11 year old son and a daughter just 6 months married, so my plans had to include what would also help them cope and heal. But we found solutions that worked for us and moved on, as that was our only option.
And, yes, in some practical ways I (and my kids) have been 'better off' without him, but we also suffer some long-term effects. My kids have no real connection to their father. And I have, for various reasons, chosen to remain single. He stole a lot of things from us when he left, and I am NOT talking about physical possessions, but he became toxic to our mental and emotional health and the time came for us to protect ourselves.
In fact, I have a lot of wonderful things in my life now that I could not have had if I was still with my ex. But that does not in any way speak to your situation. Only you and your wife can decide whether or not you can repair what has been broken, and I agree that a commitment to fidelity and renewed faith in each other are essential elements in a marriage. Without them the relationship grows into a kind of cancer of its own. And it can be more deadly than this other kind we have already experienced.
God bless.

zjrosenthal
Posts: 45
Joined: Dec 2008

I am so grateful to know that I am not the only one going thru these emotional crisis in my marriage after cancer. During my anal cancer treatment last fall, my husband was using porn and it was devastating. Recently I found out he has also been using hookers. He has even had them in my bed! I tried so hard to meet his needs after the radiation burns healed but it didnt make a difference to him. We are now staying at our second home because I cant be in that place where he was doing those awful things with his 20 something hookers. I am 66 yrs old and have been married for 34 yrs with 4 grown kids and 4 grandkids. I dont want a divorce and we are in counseling but he was cheating even while going to the counselor. He says he is willing to go to a 12 step for sex addiction and a 4 day intensive that I will also attend. I know he is not telling me everything and it is possible that these affairs have been going on thru our marriage. I am feeling scared and angry and at this point cant seem to get my head on straight. Pictures of him with these gorgeous young girls wake me up at night with knots in my stomach. I have been trying to prove to him and myself mostly that I am as good or better than these little babes that he seems to think will make him young again. I am a strong, good woman who has been a faithful wife all through our marriage. I am also quite good in the marriage bed department if I may say so myself. I cry and wail constantly unless I am distacted with daily tasks. I dont know how this will turn out in the end but I am really feeling desperate.

JH32
Posts: 19
Joined: Nov 2008

zjrosenthal-
First of all I haven't been on this site in quite a while so sorry for the delayed response. Just saw your post tonight.
It is incredibly hard to deal with both issues at once. Now that over two months have gone by since I found out about my wife's affair I'm finally past the shock. It would be a shock at any time, but while fighting cancer your attention and guard are really down. I found that focusing on my recovery and needs helped me begin to get thru it. I'm still not there, but believing that you will be fine on your own helps. It also helped my wife see that I would move on from her and she doesn't want to lose that. I'm not sure if they think we are at a weak moment and can't react to their choices- but you can.
I spent many, many days curled up crying over everything and then reached a point where I said enough. It still hurts and I have down days, but I am looking forward for me. If it works out and she wants to be there (and if I want her to) then so be it. If not I'll make it alone.
Stay strong and realize that you are a good person and his actions say more about him. It is not a reflection of you.

zjrosenthal
Posts: 45
Joined: Dec 2008

Thanks for your support. You are so right, he was a snake who took advantage of my weakness and good nature. He is still here by my grace and mercy, supposedly working recovery thru 12 steps and went to a 4 day intensive treatment program for sex addiction. He has been mean to me thru our 34 yr marriage and I stuck it out because of my goodness and compassion, sometimes too much goodness if you know what I mean. I have told him he has one chance and not to blow it. I am hoping he gets his act together for his sake because I will survive and trive either way but if he goes out there again I believe he will be dead in a year. He is an old overweight sick man and he needs me a lot more than I need him. Again my thanks for all the support and encouragement.

lillyadams790
Posts: 1
Joined: Aug 2010

Sometimes things go all wrong and you just need to get youself away from it all.If you are looking for

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

My kids used to use that expression when something grossed them out 'gag me with a spoon'. lol.

Notice how many replies there have been to this issue of relationship breakdown and starting again, it's a big topic for many many survivors. High rate of divorce in survivors but like any other challenging situation in life it can bring couples closer or pull them wide apart.

I have been separated and divorced now I guess going on 10 years, though the thoughts of revenge still often take over me, lol, just kidding of course - cough cough. lol.

Cancer alone is a complicated situation as you all know so add another person, any person into the mix in a situation with cancer in the family and it gets just that much more complicated. Love to hear the stories though of those who have infinite support from their spouses or significant others, it gives the rest of us hope.

Thank you all for sharing on this important personal issue.

Blessings to you all, Bluerose

zjrosenthal
Posts: 45
Joined: Dec 2008

Bluerose and all others posting here...I am so blessed to be a part of a community of such caring and strong people!
It occured to me that the gagging we go through thinking of what our spouses have done, or not done as the case may be, is a good thing. It can purge us of our unwanted thoughts, negative emotions and in some cases even the spouse.
I wanted to kill my husband last year when he was cheating on me with hookers during my recovery from cancer. I let him know that he had only one shot if he wanted me to stay with him and set very clear boundaries, a move upstate away from the place where he was acting out, a 12 step recovery program, an intensive 4 day treatment and absolutely no porn or acting out of any kind. So far a year later, he is in compliance with my boundaries but he knows our relationship will never have the kind of blind trust I once had. That is sad but actions have consequences. He knows how much he has hurt me and also hurt himself. I have cried, wailed, screamed and have not held back from letting him know how I feel.
So far, glory to God, I am cancer free for almost 2 yrs and am also healing emotionally but it will take time. I wish you all health and happiness.

christinerose5454
Posts: 2
Joined: Apr 2009

Since I had half my left lung out in December 2008, I did not need chemo or radiotherapy. I feel that people don't want to know me when they know I have had cancer. My husband says get over it, its done finished. I do not talk to him much about cancer because he does not understand how I feel, I keep it in and just talk to people who have had cancer. Over the months he tells me about all the men at work who's wife's have died of cancer and tells me how they have moved on so quickly finding new partners, in a way its good for the men to find a partner and move on but I feel that my husband keeps on telling me about all these women who are dying of cancer and I do not need to hear all this at the moment. I have had another major operation because my last c.t scan shown three more shadows, the good news is that it is not cancer this time but it still takes it out of me having a big operation again and having to depend on my husband to take care of me. My husband can not cope looking after me after any illness or recovery, he turns snappy and has little patience because it stops him getting on with his own life and hobbies so I would hate to be ill again. Fingers crossed and think positive all will be well.

bluerose's picture
bluerose
Posts: 1089
Joined: Jul 2009

No one says cancer is easy on any family member, husbands included, but yours seems to be more preoccupied with how it all affects his life and not as worried about how this is affecting you - you the person with cancer.

One thing you said near the end of the post really prompted me to write to you and that was when you said that he truns snappy and has little patience because it stops him from getting on with his own life 'so I would hate to be ill again'. You are more worried a recurrance would hamper him? That's what you think first? No this is backwards.

First I want to tell you that this isn't unusual with some partners, as a matter a fact the percentages are high for relationship failure when cancer shows up but of course usually there were issues there before too, cancer just puts an extra strain on things, a big strain. But some relationships can become stronger through dealing with cancer so that gives the rest of us hope that there are good relationships even in the face of cancer too.

That comment your husband made about you 'getting on with it' is a big issue with lots of survivors because we can't 'get on with it' in many ways due to trauma or side effects of treatment or just worry about recurrance. Those are real issues and not to be laughed at or invalidated. A lot of people do not understand survivors and often that is very hurtful when it is someone close to us.

I have to say that your husband sounds very insensitive, telling you about all the women who die of it and that their husbands move on, horrible thing to tell you.

What if the roles were reversed and he had the cancer? Would you be there for him, I have a feeling you would be. Marriage is about the good times and the bad times, not just the convenient times.

Are you seeing a counsellor about any of this? I have my doubts your husband would go with you but you never know. If not then I would really think about going yourself to talk things out with a professional who can give you some really good input on how to deal with this. Also of course, keep posting on this board, lots of people know and have gone through what you are going through and will understand and validate you. If your husband is violent then you need to tread lightly with him though and make sure that you are safe at all times. A lot of us need to talk things through with counsellors now and again, cancer is a trauma and issues come up. It's not something you 'get over' after treatments are done in many cases.

All the best,
Bluerose

EmilyAnn's picture
EmilyAnn
Posts: 11
Joined: Jan 2011

lisa,

im in the dating scene but im 18 and still in high school which makes it tuff. i could never imagine having a man say those kind of things to you. im still undergoing treatment. no one deserves to get it but some of us are chosen to get it and we are messengers to help teach others about our cancer. i hope you find that man who is okay about discusing what had happend in your past and will be there for you forever..

emiyann

brownchunk
Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2011

Hi Lisa... I read your post just now after searching "cancer and dating" and I can't believe how similar our stories are! I am also an RCC (stage 4) survivor and my now-ex also had an affair (3 actually). I am considering dating now, but the thought of it just makes me scared and sad. I cried as I read all the replies below. I hope you are doing well and wonder if you still visit this site. -Amanda

HLRCCMommy626's picture
HLRCCMommy626
Posts: 1
Joined: Jan 2014

My husband of 12 years had an affair while our son was doing chemotherapy & radiation treatments for stage 4 kidney cancer, he was only 3.  This was 4 months after I was diagnosed with cancer while I was 8 months pregnant at age 28.  Turns out cancer is genetic.  All four kids carry a rare kidney/uterine/skin cancer gene.  HLRCC gene.  I'm frank with potential mates.  I tell them in the first 5 minutes of the first conversation/text/email/date....  My friends tell me that is not the NORMAL way to do it.  I don't really care.  If they run, they will run now & not waste my time.  If they are of higher emotional intelligence, they will see me as a survive and appreciate the strengths I have.  I still want more children.  One guy I'm dating (casually only) - he wants nothing serious.  He has MS, was drug addict & alcoholic.  He is now an AA sponsor.  We talk about feelings a lot.  His parents are both oncologists - what a coincidence!  I have a lot of codependency issues going on from two horrifying relationships that have already ended with addicts (that were not recovering) - my ex husband was alcoholic.  Next ex was gamblers who didn't run when I said CANCER - should have seen that as a BIG WARNING SIGN.  He preyed on me like a bird with a broken wing.  

 

Long story short, I have 4 children with a cancer gene.  I'm finding contentment with being single (learning a lot from my friend with MS).  And realizing that I need to work on my mental health & be proactive as much as I have been with my physical health & staying on top of all the screenings.  I just started attending Al-Anon meetings. 

 

I figured that the ideal mate for me would be someone who is a cancer survivor or have some sort of medical issues, I'm studying to be a Pediatric Oncology Nurse - - - so I think I can take it on as well, if they are willing to handle cancer & cancer genes.  At least men who have experienced and overcome a life changing event like addiction, disease, cancer, affair in their marriage.... they have a high emotional intelligence & can handle you as a package. 

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