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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.)

ClippedPhoenix Tue 06-Nov-12 14:59:25

You seem to be molly coddling both of these people with the strange dynamics to the point of ridiculousness.

Lougle Tue 06-Nov-12 15:00:47

The dynamics are all wrong here. You've been together 1 year. You are his DP. Yet, it is you that hasn't even told him that you are undergoing tests, and it is her who has told him of her 'diagnosis'.

Why didn't you tell him? Why isn't he asking, if he knows the stuff that has led up to you getting the tests in the first place?

Why hasn't he told her he's moved on? A year - doesn't matter how unstable, she should have known.

Why are you tolerating him 'going to see her'??? Why is he doing it?

ClippedPhoenix Tue 06-Nov-12 15:00:49

Fair to burden HIM!

Is this a man you are talking about or a 3 year old?

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 15:02:32

I'm sure that's how it must look. But we have a very strong relationship. Like I said, this is just a very difficult situation, and I'm not sure how to handle it.

I feel sorry for her, I guess. She hasn't had an easy time of it, and obviously has some mental health issues.

I'm concerned about how I will look because of my own issues. And also I just don't want to add more stress / worry / confusion for DP right now.

diddl Tue 06-Nov-12 15:03:43

"Goes to see her maybe once every few months after she has guilt tripped him enough."

I don´t get that tbh.

Maybe I´m odd, but I have never made an effort to keep in touch with exes.

Been polite when seen each other but that´s it.

Certainly wouldn´t dream of phoning or travelling an hour.

ClippedPhoenix Tue 06-Nov-12 15:04:20

Jesus Christ Woman are you a door mat or a martyr?

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 15:07:13

Lougle, he knows the situation with my health right now. I'm waiting to see two different specialists, one at the end of the month, and one still waiting for an appointment for. The second appointment will be an operation.

Maybe I am molly coddling him, you may have a point there. I am just concerned for his emotional well being. I feel upset after finding out what she has said, and I hardly know the woman, so can't imagine how he must be feeling.

He's coming over tonight, so I may well discuss how I feel with regard to telling him about my own health.

I'm tolerating him going to see her because I don't own him, and meet up with exes who are still friends myself. I also think that if she is telling the truth, she needs someone to lean on right now. I feel secure enough in our relationship not to worry about that being threatening.

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 15:11:56

I'd like to think I'm neither, Phoenix. Just concerned for my DP, struggling with my own issues, and trying not to rock the boat any more than it already is.

Paiviaso Tue 06-Nov-12 15:12:19

Your DP relationship with his ex sounds completely inappropriate, without the cancer entering the situation. Why has this not been an issue?

ClippedPhoenix Tue 06-Nov-12 15:16:10

I'd have rocked the boat long ago OP.

WhereYouLeftIt Tue 06-Nov-12 15:18:09

"And if I do that, WhereYouLeftIt, and she dies? How exactly does that make me look? And can you imagine how that would make him feel towards me? It would make me look heartless, malicious, a liar, and just down right cruel."

I think you need to start considering the 99.9% likely scenario. If you don't tell him, and she's lying; he will eventually realise that she's lying because she doesn't die (although I'd be waiting for the miraculous recovery to occur). He will be devastated. And how will you look to him then, when he finds out that you knew she had a history of this behaviour, suspected her of doing it again, but still didn't tell him?

Yes, you are mollycoddling him. Is his emotional wellbeing so very fragile that you believe this to be necessary? Why does your emotional wellbeing deserve so much less than his? And, frankly, hers?

drizzlecake Tue 06-Nov-12 15:23:28

If you have tip-toed round the relationship with DP and manipulative ex then this is not the time to make a stand imo. Better wait it out and see how her illness (or not) progresses but make sure DP knows about your health problems and assume he will give support. I wouldn't worry about DP, when people have awful diagnoses you just have to get on with it and help where you can.

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 15:23:29

Because things were actually going okay until she told him she had cancer. He had told her he was seeing people, she'd started to accept it, and he was going to tell her we were together.

Maybe my own mental health experience makes me overly accepting, but I do understand his concern for her, as much as it does piss me off at times.

diddl Tue 06-Nov-12 15:27:01

"He had told her he was seeing people, she'd started to accept it, and he was going to tell her we were together."

But in all honesty, her illness-or not, doesn´t affect that.

If she has cancer, will he stop seeing you??!!

I think it´s odd that he has been with you a year & not told her tbh.

ClippedPhoenix Tue 06-Nov-12 15:27:23

He's slap bang in the middle of two adoring females isn't he.

Viviennemary Tue 06-Nov-12 15:36:32

Why on earth doesn't she know that he has a new partner if they split up 2 years ago. This seems to me very strange indeed. Don't know what to suggest now. Doesn't seem to be any point in upsetting her further at this difficult time by telling her.

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 15:37:00

Maybe tomorrow he'll find out exactly what she has to say (and I do think that a tiny bit of him at least must be suspicious, and that's mainly why he's going), and I guess I'll just have to take it from there.

No, he won't stop seeing me if she is ill, of course not.

IamtheZombie Tue 06-Nov-12 15:37:19

Luminous, I was diagnosed with breast cancer almost exactly a year ago. Let me just tell you about my timeline for diagnosis and treatment.

Late October 2011 - Saw GP who confirmed a palpable lump in my right breast and referred me to the hospital under the 2 week rule.

09 November 2011 - Hospital appointment. I first had a mammogram and sonargram. Half an hour later I was seeing the surgeon who did a needle aspiration biopsy. We were sent off to have a coffee and to return in an hour for the results. There were cancerous cells in the sample. Half an hour after receiving that news I left hospital with an appointment for a mastectomy in 11 days time.

Please note that at this point the only thing that had been confirmed is that the lump was cancerous but not how advanced it might be nor whether or not it had spread.

22 November 2011 - Mastectomy. In addition to the whole of my right breast they also removed 2 lymph nodes to check if the cancer had spread.

07 December 2011 - Follow up appointment with the surgeon. At this point she was able to tell me that there had been two tumours - one ductal and one lobular. One was classed as Stage 2 and the other as Stage 3. The good news was that the lymph nodes were clear and that there was no evidence of vascular invasion. It was therefore believed that the surgery had removed all of the cancer. Because the tumours were aggressive and were both hormone and HER2+ my case was at this point referred to the oncology department to determine what further treatment should be given.

22 December 2011 - First appointment with the oncologist. I was advised that the recommendation was that I should receive chemotherapy, radiotherapy, Herceptin and be put on a 5 year course of Arimidex.

17 January 2012 - First chemotherapy treatment. I received the FEC regime which meant that I had a treatment every 3 weeks for 6 cycles. My last chemotherapy treatment was on 3rd May.

24 May 2012 - Start Arimidex.

28 May 2012 - First radiotherapy treatment. I had 15 sessions and completed this on 15th June.

13th July 2012 - First Herceptin treatment.

Please note that it was only after the mastectomy and the thorough analysis of all the tissue removed that they were able to tell me the extent of the cancer and the probable prognosis.

Unless part of your DP's ex's early tests included some sort of scan which showed metastases elsewhere in her body then I simply do NOT believe what she is saying. If she did have such a scan and there were mestatases, I still believe they would have removed the primary tumour and she would have had a mastectomy. If the chemotherapy was intended to cure (as opposed to simply be palliative, i.e. to control the disease but not to cure it) I very much doubt they would change the prognosis after only 3 sessions of chemo. If the chemo was always intended to be palliative this would have been explained to her before treatment started.

The long and the short of it is that I don't believe what she is saying.

rainbow2000 Tue 06-Nov-12 15:38:55

Are you sure its really finished,that hes not spinning you a line.Its all very suspect,hes putting her welfare before yous that not good.
I think you need to have a heart to heart and lay it all on the line,he mightnt like what you got to say but whats the alternative.

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 15:40:07

Zombie, I do hope you're doing okay now thanks

Thank you for your insight. Would you mind if I possibly showed your post to DP, depending on what she says to him tomorrow?

EscapeInTheCity Tue 06-Nov-12 15:45:24

OP, you really need to tell your dp about any results on your side. Imagine how you would feel if you dp hadn't told you he was unwell and how unwell he was. I am sure you would have wanted to support him, even if you were in a difficult situation yourself. The same goes for you dp.
Tbh illness doesn't usually wait and take turns. It's hard for the people involved but you are likely to hurt him more by not telling him than by sharing the Issue with him.
Also be careful not take on everyone else problems and brush yours under the carpet. You deserve as as your dp's ex.

Re the ex, I think that your dp ringing her parents, the Macmillan nurses etc is spot on. If she needs then he will have supported her. If it's a lie, it will be exposed.
I completely understand your position if the cancer is terminal though. I would do the same.

IamtheZombie Tue 06-Nov-12 15:46:19

I'm shuffling along, Luminous. That's what we Zombies do. wink

Because the mastectomy appeared to have removed the existing cancer, everything else is just to make sure that there were no stray nasty cells floating around my body looking for somewhere else to take root. My prognosis is excellent and I just have to shuffle on dealing with the side effects of the treatment.

Please do show it to him. I wrote it so you and he would have a first hand account of how the system works.

drizzlecake Tue 06-Nov-12 15:46:53

Lumi, stop berating yourself for being 'overly accepting' or for being pissed off. That is normal in you situation, unfortunately for you she is being very manipulative.

Best wishes, Zombie, what a year for you! thanks

raskolnikov Tue 06-Nov-12 15:52:55

Luminous yes you should definitely tell him. You are his partner, he should be giving you support right now. The ex obviously has all sorts of issues which complicate matters but you two are a couple and he has chosen NOT to be with her. She needs to be told that too. This situation could go on for a long time and you would be stuck in a no-mans land of indecision and not wanting to hurt other people's feeling when you could be the one suffering and needing support the most!

LuminousLaces Tue 06-Nov-12 15:56:54

I will suggest to him contacting both her parents and Macmillian. At best it will get her the support she needs; at worst, catch her out.

Thanks Zombie, I'm glad your prognosis is good. x

Drizzle, thank you. And Escape, you are right, it doesn't take turns. He currently has man flu so is telling everyone about his illness wink

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