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Hero Imposter

He went to all my chemo sessions while cheating on me.

“man and woman character drinking photo” by Jean-Philippe Delberghe on Unsplash

I’m guessing this is probably not an overly common topic, as I’ve not seen many stories around here that touch on the particular intersection of infidelity, cancer and chemo (now that’s a Venn diagram). I’m such a lucky bish with all this great material. It’s also lucky that I have a sense of humor about the whole thing. Ha! Ha.

Oh, he was quite the hero.

He brought cookies for the nurses and other patients, charmed the staff with his quick wit and always made sure my cold arm was covered in the crochet blanket he remembered was my favorite. Afterwards, we ate lunch at horrible chain restaurants. Each miserable place was carefully curated precisely for its presence on a list of places which I wouldn’t be bummed if I could never return. Meals eaten on chemo days tend to get associated with the ensuing nausea and thus blacklisted from your mouth, kinda like tequila when you go to college in San Diego. The IV cocktail included something that gave me the rare appetite so we went a little nuts eating giant burgers, teppanyaki, and endless breadsticks. Such a caretaker this guy.

All the while, he was cultivating a romantic relationship with our very good and much younger friend. Who could blame him? I mean my illness was kind of a bummer, and unfortunately he didn’t get the chance to shake me before my diagnosis. Ugh, old people.

Treatment lasted about six months and this guy sat there hour after hour entertaining me in a way that is insanely appreciated when you are at your lowest life moment. I mean seriously, have you ever seen an infusion room? It’s not like the ones in movies that look like a modern dentist’s office, this was a circle of well worn easy chairs draped in knitted blankets and reclining senior citizens. The whole time I was there they were remodeling the main office, but this room stayed the same. A kind of sad suspended animation complete with discarded walkers and a rack of wool hats and outdated wigs in July. They always had to find him a chair because they don’t see many guests who stay the whole time. #relationshipgoals

Who cares if my clearly dedicated partner had a side chick? He was there when it really mattered. That’s what counts. Right?

No, no it doesn’t. What it does do is straight up dry mindfuck you. Any doubts in your head about his intentions or value of you cannot survive in the fertilized soil of said Amazing Gestures (tm). Your brain is literally swimming in oxytocin, the powerful attachment chemical that makes your heart go GOO. He was piping in bonding fumes and I was sucking them down like an addict on a crack pipe. I was so lucky to have him. Did I win the lottery?

So he waited the socially appropriate amount of time after my chemo ended to ask for a divorce, which for reference is three months. The conflicting feelings I now had for my partner based on this new information did not jibe with the man I knew. It was simply inconceivable. Do people who love you cheat on you? His behavior had clearly showed he truly loved me, right? Not this current behavior of course. Oh wait, which part belied his true feelings? The idea that he could be both a doting husband and filthy scumbag were mutually exclusive; no way could both exist in the same space time continuum. It was like he was pushing me on a swing and then cut the chain when I was at the apex. Or learning your lunch was actually baby seal when it was the best meal you ever had. To this, I say THANKS, dude.

But here’s the thing: he made cancer bearable. And yeah it intensified my feelings for this humanoid with whom I’ve mistakenly chosen to spend my life, but still I got through it.

Right before he left me he saved me.

Hero or villain?

Fast forward three years, I am now healthy and live near the beach and he is a remorseful, ostracized and extremely lonely man. The breakup decimated me, but I managed to survive a serious illness. And I am not sure I am worse off. Most of my life stories I tell are about love, heartbreak, family, but rarely do I perseverate on cancer itself, it’s simply incidental to those other stories.

Was he a blessing or a curse? Fuck if I know, but I’m just glad both he and the cancer are long gone.