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Cathy Meyer

Husbands Ditch Wives After Cancer Diagnosis

By November 16, 2009

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Women are six times more likely to end up separated or divorced if they are diagnosed with cancer or multiple sclerosis than if their male partners were facing the same illness, according to a U.S. study.

The study confirmed earlier research of a divorce or separation rate among cancer patients of 11.6 percent, similar to the general population, but found the rate jumped to 20.8 percent when the woman was sick versus 2.9 percent when the man was ill.

"Female gender was the strongest predictor of separation or divorce in each of the patient groups we studied," said Marc Chamberlain, director of the neuro-oncology program at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance (SCCA).

The researchers said the reason men leave a sick spouse can be partly explained by their inability to rapidly adjust to becoming a caregiver and to look after the home and family.

Here is my issue with the study...divorce rates are higher among women diagnosed with cancer but does that mean it was the husband who filed for divorce?

I think there are some assumptions made in the study based on little knowledge of who actually took the first step toward divorce. I'm sure there are men, just as there are women who leave after a spouse is diagnosed with a life altering illness.

Let's face it, some people of both genders don't do well under stressful situations and will take a hike rather than support a sick spouse.

The researchers in this study took some data...women with cancer divorce more often. They then jumped to the conclusion that those women divorced because their husbands had abandoned them.

For me this is just another example of society viewing men and low-lives that lack emotional stamina and women as victims of such men.

June 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm
(1) jnywren says:

It was definitely my husband that wanted the divorce, after 23 years together. He went to the appointment with me to be diagnosed, but started backing out of appointments and care very soon afterwards. My family and friends went to chemo with me, and my mother took care of my children and me for a week after each chemo treatment. Even as I watched him pull away, I was still shocked when he asked for a separation. This was before a bilateral mastectomy and radiation. My children moved to my parent’s house right before surgery, and I moved in right after. He left us all. I can’t imagine anyone going through cancer treatment asking a spouse to leave. It’s a terrifying time. You aren’t looking for extra upheaval in your life.

January 10, 2013 at 10:16 am
(2) Elizabeth says:

There is more than one way to leave your spouse. My husband says only a real jerk would leave a wife with cancer. He tries to go to all my appointments and even insisted I reaarange lymphedema therapy to suit his schedule. But, since my mastectomy, he has moved into the spare bedroom and gives zero affection or comfort. Not even an occassional hug or kiss. There is more than one way to leave your spouse. Of course if I divorce him, I will be “unappreciative,” of all his sacrifices. Truth is, behind closed doors, he is a jerk who has left me emotionally. Sometimes I cry for my breast, but more often I cry because I want to be held. Do not judge women who divorce after cancer. They may just be saying they will not stay in a marriage where they are already emotionally abandoned.

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