Want to Ask an Ex to Help You Through Cancer? 12 Tips


As we get older, our circle of support grows smaller and smaller as people move away, grow apart, or simply start to die. It may be that your network of support has also dwindled, leaving you with a limited few people whom you can turn to for help when needed.

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If you find yourself wondering, “can I ask my ex to help me through cancer,” the answer may depend on a number of things.

However, it's not easy having to ask for help, especially if you don't know how to ask for help or if you don't know how to tell your family you have cancer.

Should You Ask Your Ex With Help After a Cancer Diagnosis? 

Not knowing whether you should ask your ex with help dealing with your cancer is a sign that you need to carefully consider the decision before doing so.

There are several things to consider before asking someone to take on caregiver duties as they may not be prepared to handle the stress and emotional overload that comes with it. 

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1. Your current relationship

One of the most important things to consider is the relationship the two of you have post-breakup or divorce. You’ll want to surround yourself with positive people who’ll give you the love and support you need as you seek treatment for and recover from cancer. 

If the two of you have a contentious relationship, then it’d be better for you if you found help elsewhere. A negative environment can set you up for failure in your recovery efforts.

Unless there’s no hope for recovery and you’ve been hit with a terminal diagnosis, seeking and getting help from a toxic person may stall your recovery efforts. 

2. Remarriage of ex

It goes without saying that if your ex has since remarried, it’s probably not the best idea to ask them for help with your cancer treatment and recovery.

This doesn’t always hold, however. If the two of you have remained close throughout the years and you’ve formed a bond with their new spouse, it may be within reason to seek help from them. 

Use your best judgment in deciding whether to ask your ex for help when they’ve moved on with someone new. Asking someone to help you with your treatment and recovery can be taxing on their current relationship. 

3. Your children

Whenever there are young children involved, asking for help is not out of line. Especially when there’s no one else available to lend you the help and support that you need.

Your ex may not be equipped to help you directly with taking care of you, but they may still be able to help. They can help with taking care of the children and your household while you seek treatment and recovery. 

4. Their availability

Is your ex a busy executive, do they run a home-based business, or are they retired with nothing better to do? These are some of the questions to ask before deciding if your ex is the right person to help you through your cancer diagnosis. Taking care of a cancer patient is difficult and can be taxing on someone’s time, freedom, and energy. 

You may be asking your ex to set aside an important part of themselves to help you. They may grow resentful over time and take it out on you. All of this can affect your recovery and create setbacks for you along the way. 

5. Family issues

What about the ex-in-laws? Are they still in the picture? What’s your relationship like with them now?  

Other things to carefully consider are whether your ex’s family will be intervening in your care, and how you feel about them making health care decisions for you. 

If you’re comfortable around them and they’re still like family to you, then the more people that can help you the better. But, if they’re the meddling type that never cared for you to begin with, you might have a difficult time dealing with them on top of your cancer treatments. They may turn into a different type of cancer for you that you can’t get rid of. 

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6. Ask yourself why

One final thing to consider is the reason why you want your ex to help you. Ask yourself the following:

  • Are you still in love with your ex?
  • Are you looking for a reconciliation?
  • Do you have a misplaced agenda?
  • Are you seeking pity from your ex?
  • Do you want attention from them?
  • Do you want to make them pay for leaving you?

This list can be expanded to include many other reasons you may be wanting them to help you. Have an honest conversation with yourself to figure out your motivation in asking for their help. When you’re ready to move forward, here are some ideas on how to ask for help:

Tips for Asking Your Ex for Help If You’re Ready

Asking for help doesn’t come easy for many of us. It’s almost always easier to give rather than to receive. There’s something that makes you feel good every time you help someone out, but that makes you feel terrible when having to ask for it. 

If seeking the help you need makes you cringe on the inside just thinking of having to ask for it, then continue reading below for ways that’ll make it easier for you to get the help you need. 

1. Be honest 

This is an important lesson in asking for and getting what you need from others. Talk with your ex and explain to them all the reasons why you chose them to help you through your cancer treatment and recovery. 

You shouldn’t have to explain in great detail the reasons why you need help, but laying out all the reasons why they’re the best person for the job may make the difference between getting a yes versus a no. 

These are some of the reasons why you might need your ex’s help when you’re undergoing cancer treatment:

  • You live alone and aren’t in a relationship
  • Your family lives far away
  • You don’t have anyone else to help you
  • You trust in the care that they’ll give you
  • You’ll feel weakened and unable to do things for yourself
  • You need extra support with eating, bathing, and taking medication
  • It may be difficult for you to get out of bed
  • You won’t be able to drive yourself to your appointments
  • You can’t afford to hire an outside caregiver
  • You miss their companionship and they’re the best person for the job

2. Have a direct conversation

No one wants to be talked into doing something they don’t want to or aren’t prepared to handle. Have an open and direct conversation with your ex concerning all that’s involved in helping you. Explain caregiver duties carefully and thoroughly. Here is some of what they should expect to help you with:

  • Setting and driving to doctor appointments
  • Management of medications 
  • Assistance with activities of daily living
  • Preparing meals 
  • Financial assistance
  • Physical care (bathing, dressing, eating, and toilet use)
  • Emotional care (listening, talking, reading, playing music)
  • Spiritual care (theological discussions, prayer, meditation)

3. Let bygones go

Putting behind any past hurts between you is the best way of approaching your ex for help. This isn’t the time to hash out old wounds or to try and repair, clarify, or explain any misunderstandings from your past.

If your focus is really to get the help that you need, you’ll need to let go of the past and focus on solely what’s in front of you. 

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4. Focus on the present

Focusing on the here and now should is key. Lay a foundation for why you think your ex should help you with your treatment and recovery.

Understand that no one owes you anything despite what you might’ve done for them in the past. Their willingness to help you should be based on your current needs and circumstances. 

5. Acknowledge them

Asking for help can be as easy as acknowledging someone for the way in which they’ve contributed to your life. By saying thank you and showing gratitude for all the things they’ve done for you, it becomes easier to ask for help when you need it most. 

There are lots of ways to say thank you to your caregiver without the need to spend money that you may not have, or on things that you can’t afford. One simple way to say thank you is by simply telling them, “thank you for everything you’re doing to help take care of me.” 

6. Be prepared to hear no

Even in the most ideal situations, your ex may not want to help you through your cancer treatment and recovery. Be prepared to hear the word no, and try not to take it personally. Helping someone through cancer is difficult, time-consuming, and life-altering for everyone involved.

Your ex may not be willing to change the course of their life to help you. If this is the case, try not to take it out on them. Only they can decide what they're prepared to handle and the commitments they're willing to undertake. Remember that your ex no longer has an obligation to take care of you.

Getting Your Ex to Help

Don’t assume that your ex is willing to help you through your battle with cancer. Not everyone is cut out to be a caregiver, or may simply not want to be one. Have a second person in mind that you can ask for help in case your ex says no.

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