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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?


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

Helltotheno Tue 06-Nov-12 13:15:18

I guess the thing to do is be as supportive as possible to both of them. Asking how she is would be part of that no?

Is there something else?

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 13:25:48

Not really, no. Its just a position I've never found myself in before. I've supported friends with cancer, I've supported friends who have someone close to them with cancer. But the fact she's the ex puts a slightly different angle on it, I suppose, and I don't know the best way to deal with it.

I guess also, a part me is frightened as I am currently undergoing some medical treatment and test myself, and now feel that I shouldn't tell DP because he doesn't need the extra stress. Don't know quite how to handle that, either.

ClippedPhoenix Tue 06-Nov-12 13:34:28

How come's your DP's ex doesn't know you're a couple?

WhoNickedMyName Tue 06-Nov-12 13:36:46

How close are they? Why doesn't she know you're a couple, given that you've been together a year? Do they have kids together?

Flisspaps Tue 06-Nov-12 13:37:33

I think you need to be honest and tell him you are having tests. Surely he isn't her only confidante, and although I'm guessing he's not your sole support either, you are his partner now and I think it only right that he knows.

May I ask why she doesn't know you're a couple? Not suggesting that now is the time to tell her.

I don't wish to be insensitive, and am sorry if it comes over that way, but she is his ex, you are not. Yes, she was an important part of his life, but you've already said she's struggled to let him go - and most people just wouldn't turn to their ex partner at a time like this sad

I think he should go see her, be sympathetic and supportive but IMO he needs to make sure, and make it clear to her, that he's not her main supporter through this.

Portofino Tue 06-Nov-12 13:38:11

"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. "

Call me cynical, but isn't this all a bit quick?

Flisspaps Tue 06-Nov-12 13:42:58

Porto that crossed my mind.

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 13:43:51

She doesn't know, because there have been threats of suicide in the past, and he is worried about her. He was actually going to tell her... And then this happened.

No they don't have children. She has a teenage daughter from a previous relationship.

Portofino... I'm glad you said that. I admit the thought has been at the back of my head, but I didn't want to say it for fear of being a bitch. She has told big lies in the past in an attempt to get him back, and also to make other people think badly of him. I know she's lied, because she's been caught out. He doesn't know this, I haven't told him, because I don't want to sound like a jealous crazy girlfriend.

However... I am trying to think that if it is true, he is going to need me. And if she is lying (which actually, I really hope she is, as I really don't want her to die, as much as I dislike her) he is also going to need me to support him, not being pointing fingers.

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 06-Nov-12 13:45:12

Yes, why doesn't she know you are a couple?

It's only right that she is told. She might be expecting more from your DP than he can give, as he is now in a relationship with you. He has moved on, and she might think that he hasn't if she thinks he's been single all that time. I understand not wanting to upset her, but after a year, she needs to know.

The timeline seems very fast, and she hasn't had very much chemo, so the situation could be very bad or it could be that she's struggling to understand the treatment. It's complicated and my granddad got easily confused by what was happening when the chemo started.

But regardless of that, she may well be thinking your partner can offer more than he actually can. She may not want to rely on him so heavily when she knows that he is with someone else, depending on the real nature of their relationship.

You also need to tell him about your tests. You could wait until after he visits her, if you want. He'll cope. It is very unlikely to come down to pulling rank etc, so don't worry. Just tell him that you were holding off speaking to him until he knew what was going on with his ex, but that you are having x tests for x, and would like his accompaniment to appointments/need some support/etc.

But I do think she'll pull away into her own family and friends once she realises your DP isn't single and available.

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 06-Nov-12 13:48:32

Ah. I suspected that might be the case.

He does need to tell her. Not in a big way - maybe just mentioning you by name casually is likely to be enough. As a matter of priority. Whether she is ill or not, she deserves to know exactly where she stands. If she threatens suicide again, call the samaritans or the police, and give them her address. They'll help her. He can't lead her on forever thinking that he's single and they might be getting back together.

You won't need to point fingers. He'll know from what she says, and how she responds to him not being single.

WhoNickedMyName Tue 06-Nov-12 13:49:56

Well he sounds far too emotionally involved with her.

She is his ex. He needs to remember that.

He should step right back, and she needs to find someone else to give her the level of support she's going to need if her story is true.

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 13:50:27

I don't want to leave her without a support network right now, know she has a difficult relationship with her family. I also know that the probability is my tests will come back showing something a lot less serious than cancer. DP knows how my health is up until now, but am considering not telling him if there is any bad news from any of the departments I am currently visiting.

Longtalljosie Tue 06-Nov-12 13:50:36

Mine too - but if the OP says that to her DP she's liable to come across as a total cow...

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 13:54:04

I must say, I faintly relieved that some of you seem suspicious too. Stops me feeling quite so horrible about my own thoughts!

Wingedharpy Tue 06-Nov-12 13:55:52

Don't know about the ex-P OP, but just to put a different perspective on the time frame -
a dear friend's partner was diagnosed with cancer approx 5 weeks ago, has had 1 session of chemo and has now been told he is terminally ill so sometimes it can happen very quick.
I agree with others though, she does need to know that he is not a free agent and cannot be at her beck and call. He needs to ensure that he does not get sucked in here otherwise it will be difficult to extracate himself.
She probabaly won't cultivate other support networks if she thinks she has him to rely on.

ChickensHaveNoEyebrows Tue 06-Nov-12 13:57:38

Just reading your OP, I thought 'chinny beard'. Which might make me a bitch.

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 13:59:18

I'm sorry to hear about your friends partner, Winged sad

He has been very good at stepping back from her, but obviously right now he doesn't want to upset her. I don't how many other people she has told. She makes him feel horrendously guilty for not being around all the time, but he has stuck to it.

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 14:00:28

Sorry Chickens, could you expand? I'm having a stupid head day today!!

CajaDeLaMemoria Tue 06-Nov-12 14:00:39

Agreed, Winged.

Your DP is leading her on. He might be doing in with the best intentions, but running to her and not telling her about you isn't helping her. He needs to be very clear and make sure she knows that he has moved on - quickly, so she can build another support network. You might think that she has no-one but that is unlikely to be true.

And even if it was, I'd much rather rely on Macmillian Support and the hospital than an ex who was pretending to be single.

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 14:02:37

Oh - and I should state that they live an hour apart, he lives just down the road from me. She calls and texts him quite frequently but he rarely answers. Goes to see her maybe once every few months after she has guilt tripped him enough. The last few weeks have changed things obviously.

mutny Tue 06-Nov-12 14:04:03

Why is he so involved with her?

is it because she threatens to kill herself?

chicken I haven't heard 'chinney beard' in years. Love it. smile

Crossed my mind reading the OP and then there is the fact that she has manipulated him before.

The thing is OP, if she is lying it will come out.

drizzlecake Tue 06-Nov-12 14:04:19

You need to wait and see what the cancer is she has. And many cancers are recoverable from. Though it might take time.

But don't see the point in keeping secrets.

mutny Tue 06-Nov-12 14:06:52

And many cancers are recoverable from. Though it might take time.

I don't know any terminal cancers that are recoverable.

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 14:07:38

Disagree about leading her on, though trust me I am as frustrated at him for not being honest!! He has made it painfully clear (not just in private either) that they are no longer together, nor will they be getting back together. I think he has told her he has been going on dates, trying to ease her into the idea, and she hasn't handled it very well.

She has a lot of issues though, and to be honest, he could tell her he was getting married next week and she would still be begging him to come back. Its very sad, actually. Its been two years and she still can't accept it.

And... I guess, part of me feels that if she is terminal, then her last weeks or months shouldn't be filled with extra pain. I certainly avoided telling my dear friends bad news when they were dying.

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