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'My husband's cancer diagnosis didn't seem to add up. Then his ex-wife called me.'

As told to Ann DeGrey

I don't remember the exact moment our marriage started to fall apart. It wasn't one big event, but a series of small betrayals, disappointments, and unhappiness that built up over the years. Harry and I were once so much in love, but we stopped talking about anything meaningful, and the connection we once had seemed to disappear. We were living like strangers under the same roof. I often found myself staring at him, wondering where things went wrong, feeling a growing sense of longing for something more, something better.

As the days turned into months, the emotional distance became unbearable. I knew I had to leave. It was the hardest decision I had ever made, but I couldn't continue living a life that made me feel so miserable. I planned my escape meticulously, saving money and looking for a place to stay. When I finally built up the courage to tell Harry I was leaving, he seemed almost indifferent at first. Then, as if he realised the gravity of the situation, he dropped the bombshell that would shatter me and my plans.

"No, you can’t leave me. I have cancer," he said.

I was stunned, my heart pounding in my chest. He told me it was terminal, that he didn't have long to live. Terminal cancer? I was shocked. How could he have waited this long to tell me? Suddenly, my plans were destroyed. 

How could I leave him now? How could I abandon someone who was facing such a horrifying journey? So, despite the pain and resentment, I felt a huge wave of compassion and guilt. I decided to stay and take care of him.

The next few months were quite gruelling. I put my plans on hold and devoted myself to his care. I took on the role of a nurse, tending to his needs, trying to make him feel as comfortable as possible. He had good days, but there were other days he didn’t leave the bedroom. But something always felt off.

Watch: MM Confessions: I chucked a sickie so that I could... Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

For example, he never wanted me to accompany him to his doctor's appointments, insisting he wanted to go alone. He never showed me any medical documents or test results, and my requests to speak to his doctors were always met with vague excuses. He claimed he wanted to protect me from the upsetting reality of his condition, but deep down, I felt a funny suspicion that something wasn't right.

When I asked for specific details about his cancer, he'd only give me general information and then tell me it was a "very rare type of leukemia."

Then, one afternoon, everything changed. I received a phone call from an unknown number. On the other end was a woman who introduced herself as his ex-wife, Helen. She told me she had heard about Harry’s cancer and felt compelled to reach out. "I think you should know," he did the same thing to me when I tried to leave him. He told me he had cancer, and it ended up being a lie," Helen said.

Her words hit me like a freight train. My mind was racing as I tried to process what she was saying. She went on to tell me specific things that he'd told her, that were the same as he'd told me. Could it be true? Could he really be lying about something so serious, so devastating? I needed to know the truth. That evening, I confronted him, demanding proof of his illness. His reaction told me all I needed to know. 

He looked shocked, he fumbled for words, and when told him I'd had a phone call from Helen he was silent. I then demanded he show me his medical records and that's when he finally admitted he had none. He'd never been diagnosed with cancer. It was all a lie, a cruel manipulation to keep me from leaving.

"But what about all those doctors' appointments we've been paying for?" I asked. He told me he was seeing a doctor for minor things such as stomach problems and a persistent cough. 

I was livid, hurt, and felt utterly betrayed. This was much worse than if I'd found out he’d been having an affair. I demanded he pack his bags that night, and thankfully, while apologising to me for his lies, he left for good.

Leaving Harry was not just about escaping his lies, but about reclaiming my life and my sense of self. In the weeks that followed, I reconnected with friends and family, and I started therapy, which helped me process the trauma and rebuild my confidence. 

Life has a funny way of throwing curveballs, and, through this experience, I learned the importance of trusting my instincts and valuing my own happiness. I promised myself I'd never to let anyone manipulate or control me again. I knew I deserved better, and looking back on that chapter of my life, I'm now grateful for the strength I found to stand up for myself and start a new life. 

Feature Image: Canva.

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