“My Husband Left Me for Another Woman While I Was Battling Advanced Cancer”

My husband of twenty-four years left me while I was battling advanced ovarian cancer and breast cancer. Our marriage was rocky before he left. My question is: What type of woman would inject herself into the life of a sick person’s spouse? I don’t care if a man told me his wife was the devil incarnate. I wouldn’t pursue a married man!!

My husband left me for an oncological nurse he met at a bar. How could my ex-husband leave me for that type of woman? I think about this almost every minute of every day and it’s going on two years since he left.

Please help me to understand. I have not been able to comprehend what has happened. I’ve been in remission since 2015, by the way. — Left For Good

First, congratulations on your remission! As for your ex-husband, I think he was a weak man in a rocky marriage who lacked the strength and character to care for a sick wife whom he must have had some complicated and mixed feelings toward. He found a woman whose character featured similar flaws — after all, she “injected herself into the life of a sick person’s spouse,” ahem — and he may have felt a sense of comfort in that. Maybe with her, the expectations are lower and, therefore, the relationship maintenance is lower. He doesn’t even have to pretend to be a stand-up guy, because she knows he’s the kind of man who would leave his wife of twenty-four years during the height of her cancer battle. The bar is pretty low, and for someone with deep character flaws, that’s probably a relief.

But, enough about him (and her). You’ve spent too much energy already thinking about them. In remission, you have the gift of life and health. Get yourself to therapy so you can compartmentalize a small part of your week toward unpacking your hurt feelings, and spend the rest of your time fostering the kind of life you would feel especially grateful to have the chance to live.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.


  1. artsygirl says:

    LW – Hugs across the internet. I am sorry that you had to face the betrayal of your husband while battling a serious illness. Your husband is weak and selfish and he obviously met someone who was also selfish (especially since she would have witnessed first hand the struggles people have while fighting cancer). Think of this in terms of their own failings because as you said, you would never pursue a extra-martial relationship like they did. Please follow Wendy’s advice and see therapy. You might also see if there is a local support group since it is tragically common for marriages to end when a spouse suffers from a serious illness.

  2. Juliecatharine says:

    Wow, what a counterpoint to this morning’s letter. OP, I am so sorry that your ex revealed himself to be so very lacking in character. The thing about this type of betrayal is that it can make you question your own worth and while there were surely issues in your rocky marriage that may be worth looking at/examining your role in them, you must know (and if not I’m telling you!) that what he did says way more about him than it ever could about you. You deserve to be free of this. A good therapist can help you get to a healthier state if mind where you don’t allow someone else’s stunningly shitty behavior consume your life. Congratulations on being in remission, that must have been a hard fought victory and I think you deserve to enjoy it.

  3. You say they met at a bar and so maybe it was a coincidence she was an onc nurse? Or was she aware of your situation? I get that that might be just a bit too much considering what you went through, but if they truly met outside of your care, then that’s just one of life’s cruel jokes. remember, living well is the best revenge.

    1. I think the LW’s point is that an oncology nurse should know the pain a cancer patient suffers with both the disease and its treatment. And she should not have added to it.

      1. My husband did th he same thing Iafter 22 ye as rs the time I need him he left for a women if you can say women he meet in a bar we have a son with serve autism I need him and are son needs hisdad she didn’t care are did she she also new I had cancer arre daughter told her she said it was his sister this women has 3 children wi th 3 different man there was his sign and what you find in a bar you leave in a bar what a piece of shit I’ve had cancer again I come home and take care if are son

      2. That’s really rough, my sympathy goes out to you. I have a friend with autistic twins, who felt compelled to research this issue — the majority of husbands in families with autistic children abandon their families.

  4. Sometimes people who you exactly who they are, and it hurts but in the longterm you’re better off for knowing. I’m so sorry that he left while you were in a scary and hard place already, he’s a POS and you’re better off without him in your life. I hope you get some help to start putting this behind you and focusing on the life that you have!

  5. A very similar thing happened with my brother and SIL. He had been wanting to end the marriage for several years and she was resisting. THEN she was diagnosed with breast cancer. He and our whole family saw her through the chemo even though he did separate from her. He was taking her to docs, changing dressings, etc. He did not abandon her even though they broke up. She eventually had a prophylactic double mastectomy and the plastic surgery that goes along with it. She is doing great! Both my bro and she are remarried to other people and very, very happy. She is one of the strongest people I know and I love her very much.

    My point is that the divorce and the cancer are separate issues and a matter of timing. You already said the relationship was rocky – you were part of that relationship. Own up to that. That didn’t change because you then happened to have health problems. You long ago needed to find your own resources, pick up and go on. That’s what people do when they split up, whether they have cancer or not.

    I might add that I have chronic health problems – lupus and the various autoimmune problems associated with that. Just because I am married doesn’t mean that I have support from my husband, in fact I am pretty much on my own as far as getting to doc appts, etc and I don’t have a lot of emotional support. LW, if you had stayed married, it doesn’t mean that you would have had all the support that you are imagining you would have had. It’s time to sit down with a therapist to see where you go from here.

  6. Erin Barret says:

    First of all, hugs to you brave and strong woman! You are a warrior and congratulations on being in remission! Sadly, some men cannot handle a major life crisis like this. I agree with what others are saying above about seeking therapy. Someone professionally educated in matters like these, should help you work through your feelings about your ex-husband. Also, check out Wendy Brown, http://whylovesucceeds.com/, you’ll find a lot on there regarding relationships. Not to mention she has a few books out, including her most recent “The Six Passions of the Red-Hot Lover”! Keep fighting, your future is bright!

  7. caroline schwark says:

    my husband has just left me I also have terminal cancer im very angry and upset I dont think I will ever forgive him or the woman in the supermarket bakery he works with I think what kind of woman would even go with a man when she knew I had cancer they are both welcome to each other neither of them are worth it .

  8. Mina Aguiar says:

    This same happen to me ? I was married 32 years, I was diagnosed for second time with tyroid cancer. Last year I was diagnosed again with tyroid cancer, my husband never took me to radiation, never took care of me while I was so sick at home he was having a good time out there with friends and his new girlfriend. I had days that I full a sleep in my own trow up, cause I was so sick to get up. He didn’t want to sleep in the same bed with me, he was sleeping the bedroom across from our bedroom. Then when he was getting tired of listening me all night trowing up and ounce in a while I would ask for water, he never get up to give a cup of water. He moved downstairs, he was sleeping in the office. One day I get up about 3 in the morning, he was having sex with a woman. What kind of human does such of thing? I cry so much, ….. That I hand up having a seizure. We separate almost 2 years, we going truw divorce . People tells me be strong. I start dating him since I was 16 I m 50 now. My self esteem is so low. This man for 32 years never give a birthday card, Mother’s day, anniversary.

  9. Bernadette P says:

    I had a very invasive breast cancer in ’99 with a recurrence in 2002. Two weeks before a bilateral mastectomy was scheduled, my husband of 15 years left for work and never returned. Later I learned that he had been having an ongoing affair with a co-worker. He turned into someone I no longer knew.. vicious, cruel and slandering me while I was fighting cancer. After the divorce, he married her. I have been single ever since. I have not have a recurrence since, and it is a miracle. I prayed to return me back to the person I used to be before cancer. Be careful what you asked for. I came back even better. I used to be a singer/musician when I was in my teens and 20s. I figured music again at my age (I was 53) can’t be that scary compared to cancer treatments. So I auditioned and landed a gig with a band. I have been performing ever since, doing solo shows now. And I was able to retire from a day job and just do music. I devoted myself to eating right, exercising and taking care of myself. I am happy with myself finally, and so glad that the ex is gone. He was a malignant cancer in my life. A single life is good.. and health is such a blessing. I hope this helps someone out there who has walked in my same shoes. Believe in yourselves. <3

  10. Am glad my husband has get back to his senses and return back home. after leaving me for his mistress all thanks to priest Adu who helped me with his powerful reunion love spell I never regretted working with solution temple no more infidelity and pains the broken heart has been totally restored. visit him [https:// solution-temple.webnode. com]

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