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Cancer scare or hoovering?

(43 Posts)
HelpLeaving Wed 07-Oct-20 15:48:35

H left about 3 weeks ago and I have maintained low contact despite numerous texts and emails offering 'help'. Learnt that lesson.

He has form for initiating contact using health - notably when he phoned me to say that the mother of the woman at work he had left me for had ovarian cancer when things in his new life were going sour. Maybe he thinks this worked as initial contact because he did manage to wheedle his way back in 20 years ago.

Anyway, this followed the first weekend my teenage son said he was busy and there was no contact. He has come here to collect him previously. Son is never ready and I end up hosting H who also has things to collect, a bone for the dog, chocolates for me!

Today he phoned because he thinks he has symptoms of bladder cancer. He says he has been to the GP and is awaiting test results and may be referred to urology. He kept repeating stats of 1 in 5 with his symptoms have cancer and survival rates dependant on stage. With a catch in his voice and thanking me for speaking to him.

On those stats 80% of me is thinking chinney reckon and a 99.5% of me is thinking this is par for the course. But damn that 0.5% that is thinking, you heartless bitch, this is the father of your DC.

Any advice?

OP’s posts: |
Opentooffers Wed 07-Oct-20 16:00:35

Go with the 99.5%, until there is proof otherwise. It's not your problem, that's what the OW is for, but it seems she's not able to give him the attention he craves due to her mother's illness, so is sniffing round you to fulfill his needs instead of supporting OW as he should - man fail! Lots of reasons her while you're so much better off out of his life. He can't stand it if it's not all about him.

Opentooffers Wed 07-Oct-20 16:01:34

Here, why

iVampire Wed 07-Oct-20 16:04:57

Grey rock aka dull, minimal response (you can’t cut him off completely as you have DS to think about)

Simply say that you are sorry he’s going through this, and to please let you know the eventual diagnosis as you will need to decide what to tell DS. And that it would be wrong to tell DS until diagnosis is known

If he tries to get you talking, do not engage. Just keep saying anodyne things like ‘sorry you hear that’ without any encouragement for him to keep speaking. And be ready to end calls (have a few unexciting excuses prepared)

CodenameVillanelle Wed 07-Oct-20 16:06:55

So what if it is? You didn't give him cancer and you aren't responsible for supporting him if he does have it.
Don't tell him you think he's lying but don't put yourself out supporting him.

slipperywhensparticus Wed 07-Oct-20 16:09:48

Yeah my ex had a cancer scare (or two) his step dad "nearly died" (again) his mom had a nervous breakdown and was in the loony bin (actually she went to the cardiac unit for a test) my answer these days is OK let me know in advance so I can prep the kids and arrange someone to look after them while I go do xyz (his health scares are usually centered around me working or going out)

slipperywhensparticus Wed 07-Oct-20 16:10:12

so i would take it all with a pinch of salt

FoxtrotEcho Wed 07-Oct-20 16:11:36

God, this man has no shame.

"How dare you withdraw your attention from me? I've got CANCER* don't you know!"

*Disclaimer: does not actually contain cancer

HelpLeaving Wed 07-Oct-20 16:12:27

Known OW was in the dim and distant past and when this crap still worked with me.

I've done the grey rock - oh dear, do let me know, don't say anything to DS2. H can't say anything to DS1 because he went total no contact several months ago.

OP’s posts: |
HelpLeaving Wed 07-Oct-20 16:39:20

I kind of feel disappointed for him and that makes me feel stupid - to have been taken in for so long by someone so obviously inadequate.

And then in the next instant I feel guilty - what if is genuine?

And then in the next instant - he's never been genuine in the 28 years I've been with him.

OP’s posts: |
HelpLeaving Wed 07-Oct-20 16:52:34

The more I think about it and the way it gets to me it's an opportunity for emotional blackmail - how's DS1, tell him I think about him every day and I hope I can rebuild a relationship with him. Suppressed sob. It's bollocks. Irony is he doesn't give a shit about DS1 as a person but only values him as a weapon of familial control.

OP’s posts: |
tobedtoMNandfart Wed 07-Oct-20 17:29:41

He's a grown up. He doesn't need your help to get a diagnosis of fuck all.

FoxtrotEcho Wed 07-Oct-20 18:49:52

It's a bit weird that he banged on about it so much to you. Why? You're not his partner any more. He can go and talk about it to someone else.

Time to start letting him go through to voicemail every time.

conduitoffortune Wed 07-Oct-20 21:02:36

So many men try this. Two of my ex partners have said this to me but unsurprisingly there was nothing wrong with either of them (aside from being massive dickheads)

MiniMum97 Wed 07-Oct-20 21:11:37

1. Good use of "chinny reckon"; haven't heard that for a long time!

2. What's it got to do with hoovering?

3. If it turns out he does have cancer I will eat my hat, and my hoover.

tobedtoMNandfart Thu 08-Oct-20 14:25:27

Hoovering is the term used to describe this type of narcissists behaviour, trying to suck you back into engaging with their drama.

Bunnymumy Thu 08-Oct-20 14:30:51


He's a grown up. He doesn't need your help to get a diagnosis --of fuck all.--

He's your ex.

'I'm sorry to hear that. Good luck with it all'.

Is the extent of the support you need to provide. If even that. Are all your kids grown? If so I literally wouldn't even answer the phone to him anymore.

And cancer scares, are unfortunately a really common hoover tactic used by narcissists.

Sssloou Thu 08-Oct-20 16:47:05

Even if he has you are not the one to provide support.

Same grey rock tactics if true or false.

Your job would be to prioritise and focus your finite emotional energy solely on your DSs if that is something that they have to deal with in their young lives.

Don’t feel guilty about thinking that this is just another manipulation - because it probably is - and even if it isn’t your skepticism is entirely appropriate given his history. Just don’t trip up by expressing that to him or your DSs.

ReneeRol Fri 09-Oct-20 11:36:04

Let his other woman worry about it. Don't waste your time listening to him.

PixelatedLunchbox Fri 09-Oct-20 11:48:11


I kind of feel disappointed for him and that makes me feel stupid - to have been taken in for so long by someone so obviously inadequate.

And then in the next instant I feel guilty - what if is genuine?

And then in the next instant - he's never been genuine in the 28 years I've been with him.

So what if it is genuine?? He's not your partner anymore, he's hoovering for attention and you are allowing yourself to be an easy target. I wouldn't reply or comment on ANYTHING he says, unless it is specifically about your sons. He's not your problem anymore, you're not his partner anymore, do yourself a favour and stop being his doormat. And you have nothing to "feel guilty" about.

Silentplikebath Fri 09-Oct-20 12:52:28

If he is seriously ill and he dies (which is extremely unlikely) it will save you the bother and expense of having to divorce him! I know I’m cynical but I’ve seen so many manipulative people try to use health scares to get the attention that they crave.

Tiktaktoe Fri 09-Oct-20 13:16:00

How old is your ds. Do you even need to be in contact with him? Can he not contact your ds directly?

RantyAnty Fri 09-Oct-20 13:26:43

Yes how old are your DC?
Sounds like the youngest is teens.

You are free to block the ex and never speak to him again. He knows how to contact the DC.

You don't have to let him use you as an emotional tampon for his problems.

category12 Fri 09-Oct-20 13:34:17

"Sorry to hear that, you should probably chat to your [family member/friend] about your concerns."

ifIwerenotanandroid Fri 09-Oct-20 13:52:12

OMG, this brings back my MIL. She used to do this for attention. I remember the year she told me portentously she was 'being investigated for cancer' - it turned out all that was happening was that she was due a standard, regular mammogram, with no other symptoms.

Of course it would be horrible if anything was found (it wasn't). But it's also horrible to shock people in advance, needlessly. I've had cancer. Only DH knew I was going for a regular mammogram with no problems expected; only DH knew about the next set of tests; & only when it was confirmed & we had a treatment plan did we tell anyone else.

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