Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

DP's ex has told him she has cancer.

(463 Posts)
LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 13:06:43

Been with DP for around a year now, he split with his ex about a year before we met. She's had issues letting go, and has made things quite difficult for us. That said, I wish her no ill, and have met her at events a few times, as we work in the same sort of business. She doesn't know we're a couple.

A few weeks ago she told him that she been to the doctor, told she had cancer and that she needed chemo. This week she has told him the three sessions of chemo haven't done anything, that its too far gone for surgery and that she is now terminal.

DP is understandably upset - they were together for a long time, and as much as he is happier not being with her, he still cares about her. He's going to see her tomorrow night to find out exactly what is going on.

I don't really know what to say to him. I don't know how to be there for him without appearing to be interfering, because I don't know her very well, and don't want to appear like I'm suspicious or anything when I ask how she is.

Has anyone got any advice or suggestions as to how to deal with this?

Thanks.

(Have namechanged, by the way, as am quite identifiable from my normal screen name, and want to preserve both of their privacy.)

PortoDude Tue 27-Nov-12 22:35:48

Chipping - you are quite right that OP has to something or nothing, all of which is nowt to do with me - except OP was asking for practical advice.....

ChippingInLovesAutumn Tue 27-Nov-12 23:22:23

Porto - I know she asked for advice and she has taken that advice on board, she may not have acted the way you, I or lots of other people would have, but it's her life, her decision. As frustrating as it might be I still don't think it's fair to say that you are 'fucked off with her the thread'.

I really don't want to argue about it, at all, of course you can post whatever you want, I was just making the point that I don't think that's very fair or very nice.

ChippingInLovesAutumn Tue 27-Nov-12 23:25:00

But imo nothing wrong at all with your practical advice and I wish she would take it smile

LuminousLaces Tue 27-Nov-12 23:50:46

I know some of you are getting frustrated with me, but I am taking on board everything that is being said, even if I am not acting on it. I do appreciate the input.

expatinscotland Wed 28-Nov-12 00:01:13

Really, LL, you deserve so much more than this. Because even if he's been abused, bullied, whatever, it's not your problem, he's making it so, however. That's not right. That's not what someone who loves you does, that's not what someone who loves himself does.

Spero Wed 28-Nov-12 09:47:13

I think a large part of the frustration stems from the fact that you seem to be constantly making excuses for him, or even worse saying that you should be grateful that he has this positive trait of being such a kind sensitive guy!

The other perspective on this is that he is neither kind nor sensitive, in fact quite the reverse, and is hurting two women because of it.

It's really sad if he acts this was because what happened to him as a child has exacerbated or even introduced character Traits that make him act this way. But he has been an adult for a long time and has to take some responsibility for his decisions, or refusal to make decisions.

There has been near universal agreement on this thread that what is happening in your relationship is not healthy. It took me a year to listen and take on board what my friends were saying in a similar situation - I hope you don't need as long.

Any update on this OP?

LuminousLaces Tue 11-Dec-12 22:55:47

No update, really. Whenever I ask how she is, he says that when he hears from her, she doesn't say more than "still the same". Apparently she's really upset at the moment because the cat is ill - and once again my cynicism has kicked in, as they had the cat when they were together, and I wonder if she's now trying to play the "the only thing that remains of our relationship is poorly" seeing as he hasn't run to her side with her health.

But then maybe I am a suspicious bitch blush

izzyizin Wed 12-Dec-12 00:46:40

This seems to be shaping up towards an invite for him to spend ' the last Christmas' with her and the feline before they join the choir immortal having achieved ripe old age.

If I were you I'd start spreading the word 'in strictest confidence' to all who know her/him and, should occasion arise, blame my indiscretion on too much Christmas wine coupled with sorrow that she's chosen to go it alone and deny her friends opoortunity to show how much they care for her.

I hope the cat makes a speedy recovery.

LuminousLaces Wed 12-Dec-12 11:48:04

Doesn't it just? Thankfully he is spending it with his family, as we're off to see DS's dad's family (take it in turns with grandparents each year), so I know that won't be happening.

Ooh that is a fabulous idea, how very cunning. Only problem is, if it got back to her, she would challenge him on it, and I would then get challenged in return, as he has respected her request for privacy. But I may well consider doing that...

LuminousLaces Wed 12-Dec-12 11:50:51

That sounds like I think he would want to! He doesn't, and wouldn't go if invited. But his family live a good few hours drive away, so she wouldn't be able to persuader him to pop in or anything, which she will no doubt try.

forgetmenots Wed 12-Dec-12 13:17:06

I've just read all of this - goodness me.

OP, I'm not going to judge your DP as it sounds like there's more to his behaviour than you can go into here. But to not challenge it for fear of looking like a bitch is too passive for words, and not good for him, his ex or yourself.

I honestly would have to sit him down and gently tell him that you think he is unwittingly encouraging her, that the dependency he has on him is hurting you and your relationship. You don't have to even bring up her health. FWIW I don't believe she is terminally ill, I agree with Izzy, there are going to be a lot of last requests to come. I think your DP sounds like a nice man who doesn't know how to say no to people who ask things of him. Make sure he doesn't say no to you. Talk to him, tell him how you are feeling without blaming or accusing the ex. He deserves to know and you deserve this to stop.

AndrewMyrrh Wed 12-Dec-12 15:54:34

Ahem, I already suggested confiding in colleagues. <needy>

LuminousLaces Wed 12-Dec-12 16:31:41

Andrew grin

I can't confide in colleagues as much, but I can gently mention how concerned DP is about her to the people that warned me about her when we first got together. It was probably your word colleagues that I reacted to rather than your suggestion, I'm sorry for that <strokes Andrew's ego gently>

I'm seeing DP tonight, will have a chat with him about things. I've been standing my ground more with everyone recently.

Thing is, I can't really raise my suspicions without raising the lies she has told about him in the past. They were big things, and will upset him hugely to find out. But if I don't tell him about those, then the suspicion that she is lying just sounds nuts. I may try and mention some more of the medical information you have all shared with me. I did ask him a while ago what 'type' of cancer it was, and he just repeated what she had said. When I asked him if NHL sounded familiar, he looked at me blankly, so she either hasn't told him, or hasn't done enough research to pull this off.

Still feeling like a terrible person for not believing her, but does reassure me that none of you lot do either.

AndrewMyrrh Wed 12-Dec-12 16:55:00

Is she definitely off work sick?

AndrewMyrrh Wed 12-Dec-12 16:57:02

<& thanks for ego stroke> Am Beryl in Xmas disguise, which I thought was very witty, but no-one has any idea who I am, and think I'm a bloke.

izzyizin Wed 12-Dec-12 17:05:18

That false beard fools them every time, Ms Streep Mr Marr AM grin

OhComeAllYeZombies Wed 12-Dec-12 17:10:27

Luminous, I can't help but notice that it's gone from being breast cancer to being a lymphoma. Lymphomas can develop in the breast, but it is extremely rare.

breast-cancer.ca/miscellaneous-breast-lesions/lymphoma-of-the-breast.htm

The longer this goes on, the more bizarre it seems to get.

forgetmenots Wed 12-Dec-12 17:30:26

You don't have to mention suspicions, though, Luminous. Just the dependency issues and the secrecy would be enough for me. Start by talking about those (very real) issues, with no reference to her 'illness'. This isn't actually about that, or whether she is telling the truth, after all.

digerd Wed 12-Dec-12 18:00:44

She may be angling for him to marry her in her last weeks, and then have a miraculous recovery - that his love healed her even.
After 1st cycle of my DH's chemo - 7 days- he lost his hair during the next 3 weeks. And it is usually 3 months of trial before they decide it is not working. My BF'd sister went through 5 months of chemo, then they found it wasn't working and changed the chemo -. Doesn't add up to me as true.

kilmuir Wed 12-Dec-12 18:04:32

hmmmmmmmmmmm

MordecaiMargaret Thu 13-Dec-12 07:14:02

This sounds a tough situation. Her lying about him, you and others knowing about it, you withholding that from him, you and he together, everyone knowing about it and withholding it from her and now all three of you knowing about her 'cancer' but witholding that from everybody. What a lot of work to keep things straight, it must stress you out a lot.
If she knows you and dp are good friends could you approach her and say something like 'I know dp has been really worried about you lately and he's finding it hard, he hasn't said anything about what it is, but I'd love to help both of you if I could' or something along those lines?
If she's really that sick, she actually will need the help of more than just her ex and being jealous of you and dp will be far down the list of things to worry about when she's in pain or (hopefully not) dying. If she's making it all up, then she can't really be angry at him for breaking the confidence.

AndrewMyrrh Thu 13-Dec-12 09:52:20

Margaret, I think that suggestion in practice would just be a bit creepy - and cements the idea in the ex's head that in fact she and he really are still perceived as being a couple to the outside world.

MordecaiMargaret Thu 13-Dec-12 10:54:21

Fair enough Andrew, I see your point in it could seem that way. I didn't put it very well but what I meant was that OP just confront the situation one way or another, the ex is holding them to ransom by making the guy keep it a secret therefore not getting caught in the lie. Even if she's telling the truth and she is sick, the offer of help is a nice one from the guy's new gf and a way of introducing her as such, if she's lying the offer of help would bring the lie out in the open.
Even if it's true 'I'm dying of cancer, you're the only one who knows and you can't tell anyone' is an unfair burden to put on the guy.

NettleTea Thu 13-Dec-12 11:12:02

you know, I still do understand why you havent mentioned the other big lies to him now, especially as you are suspicious about the cancer. Its totally relevent, and you can justify not telling him before because it wasnt causing an impact upon YOUR relationship. But truly, its cruel to him to allow him to keep going along with this. If he is the sort of guy who doesnt want to hurt her (and I CAN believe that as have encountered a similar situation, though not in my relationship - in that case it did come to a head when it was revealed she was lying about something else, and he chose the new girlfriend because of the lies) then he is probably agonising about someone he cares for, although doesnt want to be with, being terminally ill.
I can also sort of understand why he has kept the info about the 2 of you from her - if she was as abusive as you say he is probably trying to protect the 2 of you, but it isnt working out like that. It has repercussions on how you feel about the relationship which possibly havent occurredto him. Is it possible that he has AS? I know you may dismiss this because he is caring and aparantly empathic, but he could be someone who is very in touch with his own feelings and he puts those feelings onto others. So, in his mind, he knows that he is with you and is in no doubt about that, so its beyond his comprehension that you dont feel the same. It just might not occur to him that his behaviour (which seems logical and is totally well intentioned to him) could possibly be hurtful to you, and would be horrified to think it. AS people are also easily abused or lied to - they can appear very guillable but its because it wouldnt occur to them that someone might be lying.

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now