Dear Renita,

I am a 36-year-old woman who is in a relationship with a 29-year-old man who relocated at the same time that I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Although he has been supportive, visiting me several times where I live with my family, I am having a hard time forgiving him for leaving when I needed him the most. Before we dated, when we were friends, he had told me that he planned to move away because he wasn't happy with the salaries in this state, plus he had no personal support other than me. His family lives in another state, and he had hoped to be able to bring them here, but that never materialized because his job situation never stabilized.


Now he is talking about moving back here because his life without me is not what he expected. He has also said that he hopes I will join him after my cancer treatment is over. I do not want to move away from my family, at least for now. Is it unreasonable for me to have some resentment? How can I move on from my disappointment and hurt? Or should I move on from him, period?



Dear Torn,

First things first: You are a survivor of breast cancer. Congratulations! You are in the midst of an important battle for your life, and it’s perfectly natural that your life priorities have changed. Your bout with cancer has probably helped you make up your mind about what’s really important to you. No longer are you inclined to put up with anyone or anything that competes with your will and energy to live a whole, healthy life. It’s perfectly understandable after surviving cancer to reevaluate your relationships, especially your relationship with your boyfriend.


But keep in mind that the man you describe in your note is just that. He is your boyfriend, not your husband.  Although I’m sure it hurt a lot when he chose to relocate to another city right about the time you were going through your cancer treatments, it’s not like you were unaware that those plans were underway. From what you say, he has a family of his own, and his ability to support them and give them a stable home are paramount to him. Your diagnosis took you both by surprise, but his move, it sounds to me, was already underway.


Despite relocating during your cancer treatment, it sounds as though your boyfriend made every effort to visit and check on you as often as possible. He’s not perfect, but he has tried to be present in his own way, as often as he could, during your illness. That’s more than a lot of women can say. Lots of men have walked away completely, making it perfectly clear how utterly incapable they were of standing by a partner through a devastating illness.


Ideally, your boyfriend would not have relocated in the midst of your sickness. But he did. He left the city, but, thank God, he didn’t leave you. He visited as often as he could. That should count for something. In fact, moving away only reminded him how much he loves and misses you, so much so that he wants to relocate back to the city or have you join him after your treatments. Ain’t that loving you?


But your feeling abandoned in sickness is real. That’s understandable. Have you explained to him how much his relocation hurt you? You should. Have you told him how much his physical presence means to you as you go through your cancer treatments? You ought. I’m betting that the fact that you continue to see this man means that there continues to be lots about him and your relationship with him that you love and enjoy. Focus on that. This relationship can be saved with honest, open dialogue. Tell him the truth. It sounds as though God has sent you a man who loves you and is able to hear the truth. Breast cancer did not chase him away. The truth probably won’t either. Despite your bout with breast cancer, this man still cares for you and wants you in his life. Ain’t that loving you?



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