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Divorce after breast cancer

Posts: 71
Joined: Feb 2011

Way back in 1990, I married my love. I was 22, he was 27. We had a comfortable life and have 2 beautiful children (now 16 and 19). In 2010, I had stage 2 breast cancer, lumpectomy, reexcision 2 wks later, 6 rounds of chemo, 33 radiation treatments, followed by surgery to have ovaries removed (I'm BRCA positive).

This experience rocked my world. During treatment I was too weak and sick to realize what was happening, but as I got better, I reflected on life and how my family handled my illness. My husband took me to each surgery and when we got home, he would help me upstairs and help me into bed, then hand me a cell phone and say 'call the house phone if you need anything'. I felt sequestered and alone. My family continued on with their daily lives while I was in bed fighting for my life. During chemo, my husband also move out of the bedroom. His reason? My snoring kept him awake. My theory-he couldn't face my illness. He never once went to any treatment, he never once saw me bald, he never once hugged me and expressed any encouraging words of how to get through this. He and my kids also don't believe in the chemo brain that I know I have. I'm frustrated with it myself, but feel worse when I know they think it's not real. I asked him to go to marriage counseling, which he did for about 5 times. He felt he was going for me, not for him or the marriage. When the questions from the counselor got hard, he said he wasn't going anymore. 

For me, cancer was the eye opener I needed. After 22 years of marriage, I realized everything I did was to make my husband and kids happy. Now it was time for me to be happy. I filed for divorce and it should be final soon. As much as I know its the right decision for me, I have mixed emotions about what the next chapter in my life holds.

Can anyone else relate?



Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

so sorry this is going on with you. Sickness or injury can make or break a marriage or family for sure. I wish you the best & i'll be thinking of you. I only had radiation-my husband is a great guy but when ill not a compassainate person , to say the least. I have told him I hope I never need CHEMO...

My youngest (now 22) is great-she went to all my surgeries, took care of me post surgery (hystercomty etc due to cancer meds) She helped me shower, took me to the ER a couple of times etc..


I am a very caring, care giver which makes it harder -when those don't tend to me -So I can somewhat relate-but I have never been through as much as you  have by any means to even try to compare.

Do what is best for you...


Posts: 579
Joined: Dec 2010

Hi Chris, how sad.


You certainly find out who cares for you when this kind of thing hits.  I understand some handle it badly because they are afraid.  My other three family members handled it differently.  We all came through it and I know they all cared a great deal in there own ways.  But yes indeed it can end marriages, friendships etc I am sorry it happened to you.  If for the best then I hope you are happier now and moving on.  

Posts: 24
Joined: Apr 2014

Hi.  I know what you mean about chemo brain and family members not "believing" in it.  I know what you about realizing (after you can think clearly) who cares for you.  But, I guess there are people who can't face this.  

tufi000's picture
Posts: 755
Joined: Jun 2005

Difficult to hear your story. WE all have our own. BUT in some ways cancer was the best thing that happened to me.  The best years of your life could be ahead of you!  HONEST! It is time to be YOU! Live for all the things you never had time to do cause you were always there for others. You will find the part of your self you didn't have time for and a perspective only this beast of a desease can offer us.

It is not only about finding your new normal, but loving and living the rest of your life your way.

All the best babe.



Posts: 134
Joined: Oct 2011

I am so sorry you had this lack of support but applaud your courage in reckonizing that you can start a new life.  Best wishes to you on your next journey.

Double Whammy's picture
Double Whammy
Posts: 2831
Joined: Jun 2010

and forces us to look at our lives and the people in it honestly.  I'm so sorry you're facing this difficult change, but you've mustered up the strength and courage to make the change and no matter how it works out for you, you will continue to grow and learn.  Should you reunite with your husband in time, that relationship will be different, too.   It just sort of is what it is.  We're all changed in some way.  Best of luck to you.


Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010



Great Advice..


Posts: 46
Joined: Jan 2013

I most certainly can, my husban and i will be getting ready to "celebrate" our 30th anniversary. 

He was there for my surgery, and a couple of my chemo treatments, but by that time, he and my grown children were thinking, I made it this far, (stage 3 breast cancer), that I should just get on with my life, as if nothing happened, heres my prob... i look in the mirror, I am reminded of it, I have to go see my doctor every 3 months, again I am reminded, I just came from my annual check up (scans etc), it always there reminding me.

But anyway, my husband and I have been getting more distant, more him than me, lately I cannot say anything to him, without him getting upset with me, or acting like I am trying to "tell" him how do something, I am always the blame for whatever goes wrong in his or our lives.

I feel like we are just kinda stuck with one another at the moment, he will get a divorce once he gets his back pay from his disability, (he recently was approved for SS disability due to his ongoing back issues).

So, yes, I do understand totally what you are going thru.  Its not your fault.. most men cannot handle this, yet don't want to admit it, so they have to blame other things.

Our veteraninan, was diag with breast cancer a few years ago, and she to, went thru a divorce, because her husband of many yrs, (decades) just couldn't handle the cancer that she was going thru. 

I don't understand it, but for whatever reasons, God had made us women to be stonger, so that we can endure these situations in our lives.

I just made reservations for myself in Branson, Mo, my husband doesn't know anything about it, and I just need some "Me" time without him for a few days.

Wish it could be a big Pink Bus Party, it would do us all good.

I do hope I will be as strong as you, if it comes down to divorce, i pray that I will find that strength within myself when the time comes.

But hang in there, and may God continue to watch over you.

littleangel65 (Linda)


Treecy1106's picture
Posts: 159
Joined: Apr 2011

I can relate. WHen I was diagnosed with TNBC I was separated only 2 months. My husband could have redeemed himself but didn't. I went through a BMX/reconstruction/chemo and divorce all at the same time.

Looking back at that time it was very very difficult but as I stand here today I am certain I eliminated "2" cancers. Life can be tough at times....all these things that happen during our lifetime molds us into the people we become.

I am sooooooo happy now. I live each day loving life and I find it very easy to rid myself of anything or anyone that gives me stress instead of kindness and understanding.


I wish you strength. courage and much love always!!! You too will see life through a different pair of eyes. Like Tufi said.....your best years might just be ahead of you...just like mine are!!!




GlowMore's picture
Posts: 795
Joined: Feb 2008

Well Chris....I can relate in a different way to what you have shared with us.   First of all I do know about divorce which happened to me after almost 13 years of marriage at the age of 31..I had two young sons then....and I do know how traumatic divorce can be.  I remarried and was happy for 30 years and then was widowed.....four years before my BC Diagnosis.     What I want to share with you is how family members reacted when I was diagnosed with the BC..........my sister came for the lumpectomy and stayed a week and then I did not see her again for 5 years.  My youngest son came once and then had to return to the City where he worked.  My oldest son was far away in CA and did not come at all.   I found that when my son or any of my church friends were with me I tended to want to "LEAN" on them for strength.......and I now believe that having to ONLY RELY ON MY OWN STRENGTH WITH THE HELP OF GOD....was what got me thru everythingfor the past twelve years.

Just a thought.  Also....sometimes what we think is the worst thing is actually the best....as the gal above said.  :)  

Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

My now 22 yr old apologized to me two days ago for not being there enough. She said YOU acted like no big deal, worked, did all the family stuff without a word or complaint. This was 6 yrs ago and she was 16 and I didnt' want to disrupt her world.

Mind you she took car of me after both lumpectomies and my hysterectomy (slept in the hosptial nights and school during the day-drove me to the ER twice when issues-helped me shower.

She was my ROCK, So she was there and felt like she was not-funny how we all see things differently.


I feel in my heart everything happens for a reason even if we never find out why or what that is-I wish you the best!

Posts: 1416
Joined: Mar 2001

What courage you have.  I sometimes I wish I would have had as much instead I decided to stay and work at this when my partner I don't think made that same decision instead decided to just stay.

Now 19 years later and we are at the same distance we were when I was fighting for my life.  I felt on my own then and still do now since my partner is not engaged as I...  I just have not been that excited about starting over once again.  Life gets comfortable and yes when your child says sorry for not being there it means the world.  I had always thought cancer would be the thing to bring families together instead it seperates us with all the fear theirs and mine. 

Having just lost my father after 6 years of my mother taking care of him I realize just how lucky I have been.  I always say that talking about dying as much as living has helped me more than anything through my life.  My mother and father were realists and thankfully my mother the nurse for that is the only reason my father lived so long no one could have taken care of him better than her and she told me long ago there was no great love between them. 

I admire your ability to choose your happiness or for that matter knowing what that might be.  I always say I know what happiness isn't but not necessarily what it is...


Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2013

Cancer reveals all.... I had stage 2 breast cancer 20 weeks chemo and then mastectomy/reconstruction. Things went pretty well until the exhaustion and chemo brain kicked in. I couldn't move, I couldn't think, I was scared to death. And my temper was out of control. I retreated to my bedroom mostly out of fear that I would lose my temper with someone, as I did with my partner one day after I got lost trying to find my way to a doctors appointment. That ultimately became her "excuse" for leaving. She has never believed in chemo brain, and as a result I still sometime feels that I am to blame not just for getting sick, but for also for the end of my relationship.

This is of course not true. The challenge of cancer taught me finally to find peace with myself, and to stop expecting others to treat me the way I want to be treated. It is my responsibility to treat me the way I want to be treated. And it is my responsibility to find peace and not feel like a victim. As I have increasingly accepted that responsibility I have been more and more happy and comfortable with myself. I have stopped trying to take care of the world, and as a result I am actually stronger and more able to be there for myself and others. 

I still have days when I believe that cancer destroyed my life, my family, my business...but it was that feeling of losing everything that made me understand that I can face anything. Not through strength but through acceptance. It is the fighting against reality that really causes all the pain. The sky is blue, I have cancer, my partner has left. Now on to finding myself instead of wasting my time waiting for someone else to be who I want them to be. I'm sure my illness brought up fears in her that she couldn't even comprehend, and she will be on her own journey to face those fears. The cancer forced me to be with myself, and that is where I am. In the end it is a wonderful place to be....

Posts: 3
Joined: Jun 2014

Hi Chris, I am very sorry to hear you feel you are alone in fighting the cancer. When I read your thread, I found my husband did the same. He went with me to the hospital for the surgery, he took me upstairs after going home, handed me a cell phone to call the house phone when I needed help, and slept in another bedroom. I too plan on driving myself to treatments. However, I still feel he is there with me And I am not alone. He has his own work to take care of. He has to do all of the housework when I am not able to. He is already very busy. so I try to do things on my own whenever I can. Sleeping in different bedrooms helps us both get sound sleep while getting good rest is so important to both he and I.  I do not mean to justify what your husband did. but would like to offer another angle to interpret what he did. Hope you well!

Posts: 6587
Joined: Oct 2010

checking back in to see how things are going???



GlowMore's picture
Posts: 795
Joined: Feb 2008

she has not been on since last May disney.............

Posts: 1
Joined: Nov 2014

I'm so sorry you had this dearth of help but applaud your courage in reckonizing which you should begin a life that is new. Best compliments on your trip that is next to you.


Ronald A. Tobin

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ggiampao's picture
Posts: 4
Joined: Oct 2014

it angers me that "family supporters" cannot deal or be there for the person with cancer.....my mother has cancer and is terminal and with each day it is getting worse and worse and i am there to snuggle her love her and just sit with her and be with her.... when you cant do that for someone you love or are scared to, i think thats bull crap this person is your family and needs you they should be given anything they need in a time when they need love and support so much.... if she asked me for anything i would do it ....why deny someone who is sick something you can give that will give them a smile on their face...

Posts: 1
Joined: Dec 2016

I am going with the same situation...

Apaugh's picture
Posts: 856
Joined: Aug 2016

20 years ago my mother was diagnoised with her first cancer over a 15 year period she had 5 different types.  Mother passed 5 years ago.  I never felt it was a burden to care for her.  My father did.  He kept his head in the sand and acted like if he ignored it, it would go away.  It also was a major inconvience to him.  He regrets that now but it is too late.  My brother and sister never participated in her care.  Too busy, too far away (lives 20 min. away) and other excuses...blah blah blah. 

13 years ago, my son was diagnoised.  My boyfriend's actual words were, "This is all depressing me."   I showed his depressed rear the front door. 

 Feb of 2016 was my breast cancer diagnosis and I am fighting like a girl!  I had a double mastectomy and going through the song and dance of chemo.  My current partner does not get it.  Downplays and thinks I am being a baby about my fatigue and chemo brain.  My partner will even whine to me over the lack of their lack of sleep, a cold, a hangnail.  I am getting ready to open that front door again!

   I SAY all this to say this:  Dont ever apologise for being ill.  It is not your fault.  Don't ever tolorate someone that says they love you and then act like a complete ***.  Negative vibes do not promote healing.   I have been on both sides of this street.  Is it overwhelming?  OF COURSE IT IS!   But if you have a loved one with cancer, you do not mind one bit and will go the extra mile to help them.  You will sacrifice your life and put it on hold for them.  That is what love it about. 



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Joined: Oct 2010




SLS100's picture
Posts: 37
Joined: Jun 2016

my 'partner' has been very unsupportive. Says a lot of women he works with have had breast cancer and done just fine afterwards. Now he is no longer my 'significant other' he is just my 'other'. I have major chemo brain and people think it is a cute name but it is very real. I get lost going to the cancer center and recently drove across the bay bridge and missed my turn off entirely. My 10 year old son is more help to me than anyone else. My ex-husband has been there for me just as much as my son. My 'other' should just move out and I don't know why he is staying. I need his rent money...

Apaugh's picture
Posts: 856
Joined: Aug 2016

I hope your doing better now and getting some help.  Do you have family and friends that can help you?  National Cancer Society has many programs that can help you in many ways.  Keep fighting.  Roar.

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