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My ex has cancer...
Lynalia
8 Posts

Hi everyone. I'm not sure where I was going to reach out, so I just wanted to maybe get some insight and understanding on cancer.

I was with my ex for about a year and a half (known each other for about 2 years). He lives in Texas we couldn't see each other during covid. We had every intention of seeing each other this December for the holidays.

About a month ago, he broke up with me because his lung cancer came back. He said that he had fallen out of love with me a few weeks prior to the break up and he wasn't sure if it was the medication, the depression, the cancer, or if that's how he really felt. It was a lot of ups and downs, but we kept communication going. We played an online game together often, but during this break up, he said he wanted to deal with this alone and needed space and privacy. Of course, I wanted to be there for him (and still do). I suggested I could move to the states for 6 months to help and support him.

He told me that he'll really consider it, but we'd have to wait about 3 months for him to go through a certain therapy (experimental?) and if all looks like it's going okay, then he'd want me there. Unfortunately, I haven't taken the breakup lightly and it caused me a lot of doubts, wondering and wondering if he'll let me go. I so desperately want to be there for him. He said that he would want me there because physical contact is the bare minimum for him. A few things to why he broke up with me too:

1) he needed someone there physically
2) he can't be there emotionally for me anymore (he said he couldn't take anything ‘crazy’ right now)
3) he wanted to be alone while he dealt with this. he doesn't want anyone visiting him during this time (I had pretty much begged him to let me see him)
4) he said I didn't want to leave Canada, he didn't want to leave Texas, so therefore we are 2 different people

He does other things like, in the game we play, he'll seek out other players (normally girls) and play the game with them. I deal with anxiety, so my instant thought is that he wants to seek out other people to date.

Recently, he has told me that he's not sure if he'll feel the same way about me anymore. He believes we can be friends, but not in a relationship. So I took this as my closure and asked, I guess I won't be visiting after your therapy? And he said most likely not, he honestly wants to move soon anyways.

The entirety of our conversation, from when he broke up with me until now, he has consistently said “I don't know” many times. I know things are very uncertain for him. I decided at this time to not talk to him so I can give both of us space (since it was clear I wasn't giving him the space to begin with).

I'm here because I think I just want to better understand everything, from someone who has/had cancer. Of course I hope and I wish that he'll change his mind and let me back into his life, but this is for me to fully understand because all I really want to do is help him now. I googled a lot of things about lung cancer to try and understand what he's going through. He also does not want to ever talk about it and he only mentioned a few times about how his therapy was going.

Also, he told me that after I go through my own therapy (seeing a therapist to deal with the break up and anxiety), to “come back” to him when everything is all right. He has also said multiple times that he still wants to be friends, even mentioning that I’m his best friend. But right now, we can’t be best friends because of everything that’s happening.

Please help. I know that having cancer is a scary thing and it's okay for him to decide to be selfish and take care of himself, but I just want to better understand in general what people go through emotionally, unemotionally, with their loved ones.

Thank you!

18 Replies
Dave58
88 Posts

@jumpthenfall @Brighty @Lacey_Moderator @MommyT @Cupcakes Hi and welcome to the most caring and uplifting support site you will ever find. I find your story heart breaking and sadly I can't be much help here except to say that many others who do / have experience in your situation will. You are no longer alone, but part of this Family. Here you can “ talk ” about anything that burdens your heart or uplifts you spirit. Rant if you need to. We understand.

Our mental health, both the cancer patients and care givers / supporters is crucial in our journey through this time in our lives. Please consider some cancer related counseling for both of you or just yourself. Having cancer affects everyone differently, Some are willing talk about how they feel and what's going on inside. Some won't. It's scary. I have stage 4 lung cancer so I understand the confusion he's going through.I'm sure you will be provided links by other members here that will help guide you in whatever help you need. I've tagged a few that will love to help you. Keep us updated so we can support you !

Brighty
7363 Posts

Hi @jumpthenfall ! I'm just heading home from work now but I will be logging on a bit later to write to you in more detail. TThanks for tagging @Dave58 . II also want to introduce you to @teeny wwho was going through the exact same thing as you!! Be back a bit later.

Lynalia
8 Posts

Thank you very much! It's been really tough for me to understand and with him not opening up, I feel like I've lost not only the love of my life, but my best friend. I also want him to survive this, which is why I was so adamant about being there for him.

I'm happy for the welcome and I look forward to the responses.

I also changed my username; sorry for the confusion!

Brighty
7363 Posts

Hi @Lynalia I can't tag your new user name but I'll be on later to write in longer detail.

Brighty
7363 Posts

@Lynalia Hi there. I am back. I"m so sorry for what you are going through. First, don't blame yourself. Cancer causes so many emotions, so much turmoil in people and in couples. It can either bring couples closer together, or draw them apart. I can't pretend to know what it feels like to recieve a cancer diagnoses or what is going through your boyfriend's mind. Everyone deals differently with a cancer diagnoses. Some want support and others want to be alone.

I was a caregiver to my fiance who had stage 4 Esophegeal cancer. He was so conflicted with his emotions……….he wanted me around then wanted me to go away and leave him be. Did not want to talk about the cancer at all, then he would send me texts that I should leave because he felt useless to me. In a way he was trying to protect me and give me an out, which I did not want. He felt guilty, like he was a burden, which I made clear, he was not.

Your boyfriend is giving you so many mixed messages, and so many reasons why he has broken up with you. He seems to want it both ways. He has been given a devastating diagnoses, and probably does need some space and time to process the news. “Falling out of love” may just have been an excuse to protect you, or to push you away. He wants to be alone, yet, he still wants to keep the communication going. He needs to figure out which one it is. And, you were willing to uproot up your life for 6 months to be with him which is so amazing of you!!!! I hope he appreciates how much you truly love him. It might take him while to come around, to process what he is going through, and to make up his mind what he wants. He might come to realize how much he needs and appreciates you.

But in the meantime, you need to think of you too, and your feelings. You can't put your life on hold indefinately. It is not fair for him to say “come back to me after your therapy sessions." I am glad you are going for therapy though, because you are in very heartbreaking situation. Is he planning to go for some therapy too?

It might help you to surround yourself with supportive friends and family members…. Do your therapy sessions and get stronger….continue with your life, and do what makes you happy now. I'm sorry this is happening. I hope your ex will have success with whatever treatment path he is on. But he has chosen not to share this with you at this time, and you can't do much about that. So be good to yourself, take care of yourself and do whatever you can do get through this. We will help you in whatever way we can.

Lynalia
8 Posts

@Brighty I only blame myself for not recognizing it sooner. Before he broke up with me, there were some parts when we'd have date nights, he'd be really tired or seemed a bit irritable. I knew he had changed his medicine, so I thought that was probably the result of it. As much as I try to not blame myself, I'm mostly upset that I didn't see these “signs” sooner. Or I wish he had told me his concerns about possibly falling out of love with me… well, sooner. Unfortunately, he is the type that wants to deal with this alone, no matter how much I pleaded for him to let me in and help.

I'm so sorry to hear that about what you had to go through! My ex never once said that he was a burden or that he felt useless. He was more concentrating on wanting to deal with this alone and not let anyone have to deal with it *with* him. I understand why he'd want to deal with it alone, but he knew how much I loved him and I would have done pretty much anything for him. And yes, I've also said this to him as well.

He has said countless times to me that he is dealing with what he was given and he needs space and time to process everything. The recent things he said, about how he may not have the same feelings for me anymore, are very much "real" to me and as much as I would love to hope that he only said it to push me away, it seems like it's a done deal that he doesn't want anything further. I actually had a lot of it planned out too if I were to move there for 6 months. I had it arranged with my job to work remotely, my friends were aware, my family was aware, I did a lot of research on what I'd need to do (visa, no visa, etc)... and I kept him in the loop about it and he honestly did seem grateful for it. Unfortunately, I may have pestered him too much and ultimately, it led to just ending the whole thing. I have always told him, even at the end, that I will always and forever be there for him and to not forget it. If he messaged me months later and asked me to be there for him, I would go. Some of my friends were against it, but the heart wants what the heart wants and my heart keeps telling me to go to him if he needs me. The best part of a long-distance relationship is that I fell in love with him for *him* and I was able to connect with him emotionally so well. The worst part is also that.

I won't put my life on hold! I'm going to keep on moving on, even if it hurts. I have to, because I've been making myself sick. I told myself... if I can't take care of myself during this, how would I take care of him if I were there? I'm seeing my therapist again this Friday, which I'm excited about. My heart still continues to break, but I just need to keep moving on. I don't believe he's doing any emotional therapy, just the therapy to try to rid the cancer.

Thank you so much for your kind words. I know, he's so stubborn that I can't do anything further but to just... move on.

A few of my friends have been giving me tough love and saying to block him to make it easier. I just... can't seem to do it. I want to be there for him in case he became worse. I just have to learn self control of not needing to message him all the time (which I haven't really done, so I think that's progress). But... even though I won't put my life on hold... is it wrong of me to hope that him falling out of love is from the medicine/depression/cancer/etc? I know it's a lot to hope for, but... I just can't help it sometimes. He said he wasn't the "end all be all person" and he may not be, but that doesn't mean I can't love him for all I have.

Brighty
7363 Posts

@Lynalia your love knows no bounds. You could not have recognized the signs earlier ..you can't read minds. HHe did not communicate this to you. Unfortunately I learned that if the guy wants space,give it to him. I had to back off the nagging when my fiance wanted space. I let him know I was there for him n matter what,but when he wanted space to not have to talk about things,I could not force it. I had to let it be. Sometimes I would just sit with him and watch tv and hold his hand…that was enough. I'd I started talking about things he didn't want to talk about,he became angry and resentful. You can't force your boyfriend to let you help him. Your boyfriend may not have said he feels useless and a burden but perhaps unconciously he could be feeling that way. He may not know it himself. I had to assure mine he was not useless nor a burden to me but he strongly felt he was. He could no longer do the things he used to do and felt bad about himself. Imagine if you gave up your whole life to move to texas and he treated you like this there? You would be all alone with no support in a strange place. It would be unbearable for you. Your friends care very much for you I see. I can't tell you what to do of course and don't like cutting people loose or advising others to do so. But in this case perhaps a clean break is what is best at this time. You are making yourself sick and it's no good for you. II'm glad you will keep going and not put your life on hold. It will take time bur you will get through this and find happiness again!!!

Cynthia Mac
3299 Posts
Lynalia‍ , I’m sorry you’re going through all this.

Sometimes, when someone is diagnosed with cancer, they “rally the troops” - they tell all their friends, and build a network of supports and people to help them through. Other times, the patient withdraws into their self, and needs a “hands off” approach to try and sort it out in their own head and heart. It sounds like your ex falls into the latter category.

Then, you add hundreds of miles of distance. I had the opposite of your situation happen to me: I was dating a guy who lived almost 2 hours’ drive away. He kept saying he would move closer to me, but when he looked at real estate near me, he was looking at “homes for two,” when I was quite happy in my “home for one” — at least until we knew we were really ready to cohabit. After a few years of him “promising” to move closer and not doing so, I drove to his place one weekend to make the break. It was then that he dropped a bomb on me that he’d been diagnosed with a respiratory illness months before but hadn’t told me because he wanted to deal with it himself. Fully guilted, I stayed in that relationship another few years, but still ended up breaking it off. I can’t say that staying in that relationship served either of us well.

In your posts, you relay that your ex is repeatedly saying he needs more space, and that his feelings for you aren’t the same. Sometimes, we have to take such statements for what they appear to be. You said he says he is “dealing with what he has been given,” but he was given you, and he is pushing you away. And you’re offering help!

You know yourself and him better than I do, but I believe that if I had a partner sending me such mixed messages as “I need more space,” “I need someone here physically,” “I don’t feel the same for you as I did,” and “we can still be friends,” I would give him all the space he says he needs, while focussing on my own needs, whatever they are - counselling, dating, helping people who want the help.

As for understanding his lung cancer, you mention that his cancer has returned — has it returned in his lung, or has it metastasized to another spot? What can you tell us about his treatment? What is it about his cancer that you want to understand?
MommyT
121 Posts
Lynalia‍ . So sorry to hear about this. I know that having cancer is a very personal experience .. I have not shared my diagnosis with many people - only close friends and relatives. It is very difficult for me to talk to people about my cancer, and especially difficult for me to see the sympathy in their eyes. I agree with Cynthia Mac‍ and that you should give him his space. You could always be supportive from afar ... face time, telephone calls, notes, etc. The telephone calls and face time, and cards in the mail from close friends have certainly been helpful for me to push through this.
Do make sure you get the help you need - counselling, etc.
Take good care, and do know that there is lots of support on this website.

Never give up on HOPE because MIRACLES happen every day!
Lynalia
8 Posts

@Brighty It's really sad and really hard for me to just move on so easily. The break up came out of no where (for me) and for about 3 weeks, I kept saying encouraging words to him... and there were moments we'd be back to normal and he'd give me responses like he used to, but that's about it. He immediately shuts down otherwise...

I will say that I've said multiple times to him that I will always be there for him, will do anything for him, etc. He has always told me that he appreciates me and how caring I am. That's as much as I can do though, since ultimately, he just wants to deal with this alone. I am definitely making myself sick from this, but I just have to move on as much as I can. Thank you for understanding that I don't want to cut him loose/block him! I actually did block him for about 2 days early on in the break up, but realized I wanted to be there for him, so I unblocked him. He was genuinely happy that I came back... and he's mentioned that I have a special place in his heart, but I guess that's not enough.

I've felt guilty during the entire time too because I knew I was causing him a lot of stress and he always replied, saying it was okay and that he understands. And that he's always stressed and depressed anyways.

I'm doing everything in my power right now to not message him just to say hi. I actually adopted a couple of pets yesterday and I've been dying to tell him. We have each other on Facebook and he knows that way, but I wish I could just message him right now. That's the hard part. But what's stopping me, fully, is that he may potentially have another girl/person that he is talking to (casually, I don't believe about the cancer) from the game we play. I know that's my own thing to deal with.

He's always said, “this is my own fight” so… I just have to respect it, even though multiple times I thought I should just buy a plane ticket and make a grand gesture. But that's just the anxiety talking.

Lynalia
8 Posts

@Cynthia Mac I'm so sorry you had a long-term relationship that didn't turn out well in the end. I can't imagine going through that at all.

Yes... no matter how hard I tried to let him know that I am there for him, he won't take my help. He said he would 100% consider it after the 3 months of therapy, but I guess that is off the table now. There was a time when he said he would love to see what's in store for us, but "idk" was his response a lot. I guess he just couldn't figure it out, which I understand. I'm doing my best to give him space, but all I want to do right now is message him. But he knows that I'm always there for him.

I'm not very sure about the status of his lung cancer. I think it has returned to his lungs? The only thing he said was that he was going through experimental therapy for the first 3 months, and then possibly chemo after. I think I've just been wanting to understand what some people who have cancer's thought process is in some things. I know it's different for everyone, but just wanted to try and get some insights.

For example, he wasn't sure of the future, which is why he ended it with me. He didn't want me to go through this while he went through this, but also, he fell out of love with me... he said he wasn't happy for the last few weeks of our relationship. We had a conversation with a few of our friends prior to the breakup and one of the questions was, "what was a good thing that happened today?" and he responded with saying that I was finally going to visit him this December. I'm trying to wrap my head around how he could have said that, excited about it, to suddenly not. And why did he active seek random people to play this game with? He vaguely answered that he wanted things spaced out from everything. I'm not sure what that meant. Would someone with cancer actively seek another person to date? He has told me that he just does things to keep himself distracted, because he doesn't sleep or eat well anymore, sometimes it's hard to breathe, etc.

I think I just want to understand more of the behavioural so that maybe it can give me some solace, some peace. When we broke up, I asked him if there was "no one else" and he ensured that there was no one else, he just wanted to deal with this alone. Of course, that was 3-4 weeks ago... and that seems to be different now.

Lynalia
8 Posts

@MommyT I was definitely trying to be supportive from afar, haha. It's tough. We don't do voice calls anymore because that was heavily part of our relationship. I bought him a sweater though and he said I didn't have to get him anything, but I told him it was just to cheer him up.

If I sent him a letter in the mail with encouraging words, is that something that won't push boundaries of our breakup?

I am certainly believing in a miracle... thank you for your words. :)

MommyT
121 Posts

@Lynalia I think a letter with encouraging words would probably be quite welcoming. He might really appreciate it. With a letter, he can read it in his own time, re-read it if he chooses.

This as been a very difficult journey in the last year - gobsmacked - is the best word I can think of. He may feel the same. It's hard to process, and sometimes, one feels like he or she is under the magnifying glass.

You are a very thoughtful and caring person, and it must be difficult to have him push you away at this time!

Take good care.

Cynthia Mac
3299 Posts

@Lynalia , there are a lot of ways to finish a sentence that begins with “idk.” It’s possible that he was stopping at that point for any one of a number of reasons, including having to explain his reason(s).

Personally, I think it’s good that you’ve refrained from telling him about your new pets and let him find out about them through FB. It’s healthier for you, I believe.

There is a book I recommend here on the site quite often, and this is probably a good time to mention it again. It’s called How to Survive the Loss of a Love. Someone gave it to me after I had been “gobsmacked” as you have, and it helped me a LOT. It’s less than $20 and it might be just the thing for you at this troublesome time. Even if your relationship isn’t a total loss, I think it might have something for you to get you through.

Lynalia
8 Posts

@MommyT I told a mutual friend of ours yesterday that I had a letter I wrote out and was debating on whether I should send it or not… he said that if he got a letter like that from his ex so soon in the break up, he'd find it uncomfortable.

I have such an intense desire to message him right now and just talk to him casually… I thought writing this letter and sending it would make me feel better, but I feel kind of stuck. He even said it's best to still give space, give it a few months and then come back.

I also told him that I joined a forum to ask questions so I can better understand, but he said even though that's a nice thought, it's not necessarily beneficial for me (him, yes)… so I'm feeling a little alone about all of this sometimes.

Lynalia
8 Posts

@Cynthia Mac I keep telling myself, “is it so bad if I message him? Since he told me I can talk to him whenever”… but I know that it's a lot more complicated than that.

I'll have to take a look, thank you for the recommendation :)

MommyT
121 Posts

@Lynalia You and the mutual friend will know your ex better than anyone on this site. You need to trust your gut. Take care, and best of luck! Difficult situation to try to navigate! xo

Charles
99 Posts

Brighty wrote:

. . . . “You can't force your boyfriend to let you help him.”

That's the gist of many replies, and it makes sense to me. It's easier advice to give, than it is to follow.

. Charles

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