Divorce and Cancer: Does Cancer Change The Playing Field In Divorce?

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

It is scary and sad, but a harsh reality. Both the rate of people getting cancer and the rate of divorce are sharply on the rise. Therefore, having both a divorce and cancer is becoming more and more possible.


I received this letter from a reader. Here is part of it:


I am getting close to finalizing divorce proceedings. He tells me that he may be really sick, cancer sick. My heart sank. I am more than willing to be his confidant. But how do you cope with a pending divorce and now this? I feel as though all my love and emotions for this man are flooding back and it breaks my heart to see him so broken. I am lost and I am confused.


Can you imagine how this woman must feel? Lost and confused is probably putting it mildly. Let’s see…from the divorce, she probably has disappointment, resentment, anger, fear, sadness, devastation, and hope possibly. Then she finds out about the cancer. So, add guilt, confusion, love, loyalty, helplessness, and fear (from the cancer).


She asked me for my advice, and what I can offer is that there are no rules, and there is no right and wrong here.


She might decide to hold off on the divorce, re-evaluate things and stand by him during what is probably going to be an extremely difficult time.


She might choose to go through with the divorce, but still stand by him and help him through his illness.


Or, she might leave (which it doesn’t sound like she plans on doing), but I wouldn’t judge someone who did that, because no one really knows the whole story of a couple’s situation except the couple.


The one thing I will advise her on is this. She wrote, “all my love and emotions for this man are flooding back and it breaks my heart to see him so broken.” I think if she wants to give him her love and attention right now, she should do that. But, when this is all over (and hopefully he makes a full recovery) they will have to decide if cancer has changed their situation, or if the same issues that caused them to get divorced are still present.


Who knows? Her husband being ill might change things and redefine the relationship for the better. Or, it might make the divorce easier, and the two of them might become friends forever. Or, he could get cured and the two could go back to wanting to be divorced.


Cancer is very very scary and so is divorce. I can’t even imagine how stressful the combination is. My advice is, listen to your heart and your conscience, but don’t forget why you are getting divorced. In other words, try not to cloud judgment because of the cancer. Lastly, definitely listen to your gut when making decisions. I will say a prayer for your husband’s quick recovery.


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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at: DivorcedGirlSmiling.com

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