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cancer & divorce

Posts: 9
Joined: May 2004

Has anyone else gone through a divorce during cancer treatment? My husband of 23 years walked out 2 weeks after my surgery, and I went through chemo & rad trying to be a single mom to my two teenage kids. That was 3 years ago, but I'm still struggling trying to recuperate from the treatment--fatigue, pain, chemobrain, etc. My drs think I've had such a difficult time because of the tremendous stress in my life, but they have no answers. I've been to divorce support groups, but the people there were healthy and had careers. And at the breast cancer support group all the women were much older and had husbands and family to take care of them.
I'm finally beginning to put the pieces of my life back together again, but it's been very difficult. I know this happens to many women, but nobody talks about it. The only advice in the cancer manuals is that "if the marriage fails, there were problems before the diagnosis." That may be true, but it doesn't help.
I'd like to hear from other women who have been through this.

Posts: 10
Joined: Apr 2004

I too have been through similar situation. we were married for seven years(together for twelve). We separated two months before I found out I was sick.I was lucky to have lots of family and friends to help me. I believe that was one of the better things that have happened thru all this because the added stress of trying to keep a marriage together would not have been healthy at all. We are too sick to have to support someone elses feelings. And I believe that if someones walks out on you when you are sick that they probably are the type of person who would have walked eventually. I know that it doesn't make it less painful but in hindsight I think that you will come to see this is true. Take care of yourself first. The rest of your life will fall into place. Goood luck to You.

Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2004

sweetheart, there is no greater love than the love we have with our children. maybe , right now that should be your focus. try not to stay caught up in your ex (your allowing him too much control) and after 3 yrs,I feel you should be rejoicing in your recovery and the fact that your children can get to know you better because not only do they have you to theirselves, but, a healthy you. I speak from experience, I am a daughter who lost my mother when I was a teen to cancer. Before that, I lost her to that I lost her to her divorce just after diagnosis(only child myself. my other experience, I also am recovering from cancer, bc to be exact, and am also raising teenagers. God Bless you and I'll be praying for the recovery of your heart and that not only will you find strength in your children but in god.
Hugs and Kisses

Posts: 8
Joined: Mar 2003

I didn't go through the divorce, but I did go through cancer. I know how difficult it is just to recover from the cancer. I learned that you have to let the people who love you help you. Talk to your kids and let them help you. They need you as much as you need them. I was so used to being the "strong" one and when I let this go, it got easier to recover. I also had to pray a lot and put my problems in god's hands. If you suffer from depression, which I did, please tell your doctor and get medication. It will help you tremendously. You are not alone, even though it feels like it. You will make it through this, it just takes time, but have faith.
Much love,

marytres's picture
Posts: 145
Joined: May 2002

hi, I sent you an email through this site since I think we have alot in common and would like to have a contact with you by personal e-mail. If it's alright with you, drop me your e-mail address in my mail box. OK? Thanks. Hugs, Marie

Posts: 3
Joined: Mar 2004

I've been getting a divorce for two years now, and just finished with my radiation treatment. My soon to be ex desperately wanted to try again to work the marriage out UNTIL I was diagnosed with cancer and then he disappeared from the picture. It really hurt initially even though we were divorcing, but I'm a survivor. I made it through the surgery, chemo (barely) and radiation without the SOB. Now that my treatments are done, the divorce should be over soon. The judge just put it on hold because I'll be insuranceless when it is final. If your husband didn't/couldn't stand by you when you needed him the most, then he's an asswhole and you're better off without him. I was lucky because I met a man about a month before my diagnosis and he's still here. Good luck to you. Life will get better! Kate

Posts: 6
Joined: Mar 2004

I too had divorce a yr ago.I first was dx in 2002.When I was on my last treatment my daughter of 29(4 wk old baby) was dx with breast cancer also.She had chemo and is fine. My husband walked out when all this was going on. we were together 7 yrs. Now I have been dx with reoccurrance of breast cancer in both lungs in Feb.2004 Does not look good. treatment is working and hopefully I will be go into partial remission.I get angry at the fact he went on with his life and mine has been torn apart.I am alone at 47yrs. My oldest is 31,married with 2 sons, my son is married baby on the way, and son in college at 23yrs. I go to treatments, I love my children, grandchildren but I am still alone with no one to share stuff with at home.My faith has kept me going but I still have a lonliness that comes with divorce and illness. I did not feel the effects of divorce at first because my daughter needed me, then my cancer came back,fighting for life.I still have a void although everyday of life is a blessing. Just hang in there. time will heal along with God's help.

hummingbyrd's picture
Posts: 961
Joined: Sep 2002

Been there done that, divorced 1 year after diagnosis after 17 years of marriage. Was that all a lie or what? I have 2 wonderful boys 15 and 12, actually my divorce was a blessing. My sensitive ex had the nerve to tell me the other day "you don't know what it's like to live in fear of dying each day".
Hello? Where have you been Mr. Sensitive? I was diagnosed 4 years ago with breast cancer with bone mets 1 year later; he was referring to his gallbladder! Give me a break!
Anyway, there is life after divorce, even with breast cancer AND Parkinson's, so don't despair. Email me if you want to talk.
God bless.

Posts: 16
Joined: Jul 2003

I've been through similar. My husband left shortly before my diagnosis with stage IV colon cancer. Two years, two major surgeries, and three long rounds of chemo (still ongoing), and all I can say is that it is VERY hard. My children are in their early 20's and have been the only practical support I've had locally, since my family is all out of state (we live here because we followed husband's career). It would have been difficult in many ways to still be married to him, but it's hard to go through surgeries and chemo and all those miserable side effects feeling abandoned.

I did have a month or two recently before having to go back on chemo when I felt wonderful about starting over though. I was getting out, making friends, making plans, having fun. It was pure happiness to be alive and feel good, so I'm hanging on to that as hope for the future and just try my best from day to day. I think it's important to be able to say just how bad things feel though, and to have others who understand, and just hope to be able to do something helpful or creative when we can.

Wishing you happiness in the future,


Posts: 1560
Joined: May 2006

This happened to me as well. Two years ago I was diagnosed with a recurrance of BC, and shortly after the diagnosis, my husband of 15 years left me, never to return. I had a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction all alone. He left me for another woman and they are married to each other now.

It has been so painful and difficult. It is hard enough surviving cancer and the treatments without the pain and suffering of divorce concurrently.

I thought my marriage was fine. I never saw it coming. It was the worst thing I have ever been through - going through divorce hearings during the surgeries. I can't believe he did these horrible things to me when I was to sick to properly defend myself.

Although I am doing well and am miraculously in remission, it is a daily struggle to to rebuild my life. When the person that you loved and trusted does such horrific things to you, it is hard to trust anyone anymore. I guess you might say I'm shell-shocked to a degree.

My daughter lives in another state, so she wasn't here to help and support me. My son lives nearby, but he was not supportive and couldn't understand my pain. I had one brother who was supportive but he too lives a good distance.

It was a horribly lonely time for me, but I am making a new life for myself. I have a great new figure, due to the marvels of modern reconstructive surgery, and I even have a new man in my life who is supportive and loyal. I am getting ready to move to another state and start a new life - ready to leave a lot of bad memories behind.

Posts: 1
Joined: Feb 2013



Posts: 1
Joined: Mar 2018

My ex and I were together for 4 years and he knew about the cancer before we got married. The cancer had come back before our wedding date and it's been a rough year where he had been having an affair with multiple women. He officially filed for divorce in September and it finalised in October since then he has stopped paying the car payment he was court ordered to pay and in trying to talk to him about it I received a message stating me and my girlfriend are pregnant and getting married so leave us alone. I feel very devastated because I'm 26 and can't have more kids then the 1 I've already had. So since that email Sunday night I've had about a half a dozen panic attack and a half dozen time where I just bawl uncontrollably and I feel so helpless and like I'm at my lowest point.

jnickele's picture
Posts: 5
Joined: Apr 2018

I'm sorry you're dealing with this. I have my own experience with cancer influencing relationships and I know of an organization that could try to connect you to a peer survivor who has also gone through divorce during treatment. It's called Imerman Angels and it's a free peer-to-peer support network for cancer fighters and caregivers. I requested a 'Mentor Angel' from them and they matched me with a girl about the same age who had gone through almost exactly the same thing. She has literally been a lifeline in my darkest moments and I'm so thankful for that. I really think they could match you with someone who could be an outlet and mentor through the struggles. 


Here's the link and a little about it: https://imermanangels.org/get-support/

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