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Woman gets back at coworker by 'gleefully' sharing cancer diagnosis. AITA? UPDATE

Woman gets back at coworker by 'gleefully' sharing cancer diagnosis. AITA? UPDATE


AITAH for “gleefully” telling people that I was diagnosed with an illness after they dismissed me?

I (34F) have always been a “filler” person. My parents each had a child they obviously favored. My mother favored my younger sister, my father my younger brother.

I am the friend that is ignored in a group. I am the employee whose birthday is forgotten. I’m the person who doesn’t get dates. I’ve gotten used to it. As a result of being this agreeable, filler, boring person, I think the people around me don’t realize that I’m a real person who has needs like everyone else.

The prime example was when I said that my chest hurt and I coughed all the time. The people I spoke to (and I know only a few people) said that it was not a big deal and that I’d be fine. I’d never complained before so I should be fine.

I took that to heart and wondered if I really should have told people that I didn’t feel well and wondered if I was making it up in my head. It took me a long time to actually tell the doctor my symptoms because I thought i was overreacting but I had to get checked out.

Well, it turns out that there was something wrong with me. I have stage 2 nsclc [non-small cell lung cancer].

I’m still independent and handling this alone. I drive myself to and from appointments, I pick up my my mediation, I reason with doctors and insurance. I haven’t slacked in housework or at work. In fact, I’ve worked even harder.

Today at work, I told my friend I couldn’t help her move as a favor because I had a medical appointment that day. She pressed me for more details and I just said that I have treatment for nsclc. I didn’t want to give more information than that.

My husband complained that I told her the information gleefully as if I’m happy about the news. I told him I’m happy to be diagnosed because it’s proof for myself that I’m human with needs like everyone else. I wasn’t crazy. He said I shouldn’t act like this.

My husband has been unstable and touchy about random things this year, so I don’t know if he has a point. AITAH?

Edit: I’m in therapy. My therapist and I are working through things and she’s been very helpful.

I feel somewhere between a filler person and an automation. Filler people aren’t real, they don’t have complexities in life and they exist solely to make others shine. Machines don’t get sick.

The diagnosis was something that was concrete. I exist, I’m a person, I’m not crazy and it’s not in my head. I don’t want attention from others. I cried and felt relief in the same moment.

Thanks to the comments, I think I I know why my husband has been unstable and touchy. The beginning of this year, the love of his life got into a car accident and broke her femur.

She survived and is healthy now. I think that could be part of what’s concerning him. My illness is a reminder that she could have died and she could still die and life is unpredictable that way.

I alone wouldn’t inspire such emotion in my husband. The comments made me realize that my husband likely felt helpless at the concept of death. I traced back when he started to become touchy and moody and realized it was when she got into that car accident.

My husband has asked to help. But there’s nothing for him to do. I have taken care of everything so far and will continue to do so.

The post had an intensity — and comments matched it.


Someone who’s not you is the love of your husband’s life? I’m so confused.

OP responded

Yes. She’s his first love and the love of his life.

My husband wed me because his family would be embarrassed if he left me at the altar. He is married to me because I make his life easy.

I know that I alone don’t inspire that sort of emotion in my husband, so it is connected to her in some way.

When I think about how my illness could trigger him, the comments here talked about how helpless and worried he would be and I realized that he likely feels helpless because she was in a car accident and almost died.

My illness is a trigger because it’s another reminder of how she could have died and she could still die and life is unpredictable that way.


You know you deserve a husband who both likes and loves you, right? :(


You need therapy. Your personal views toward your health and considering yourself always being a filler person is alarming. Also the way you are happy with the diagnosis because it proves you are human like everyone else. These are very unhealthy viewpoints caused by obvious childhood trauma.

OP responded

I am in therapy. My therapist has been working with me on disentangling a lot of my childhood. I wouldn’t call it trauma but my parents had me take care of my siblings and they generally ignored me unless they needed something from me.


You internalized the message that you're not important or significant at some point during your childhood. That caused you to minimize your own needs and not communicate.

You are 34. You're responsible for your own health and getting help if/when you need it.

Getting a medical diagnosis is helpful in getting you treatment.

It isn't validation to prove to your parents/family/friends that you "matter."

A week later, OP returned with an update.

The past week has been a rollercoaster of emotion for me. My therapist had suggested that I write my thoughts and emotions in a journal but I always convinced myself there wasn’t enough time in a day.

Writing that post made me realize that I was dealing with a lot of emotions that I suppressed. I did resent the people in my life who just took and took without giving back. I had told nobody besides my therapist about how much I feel like a ghost of a person and how I pushed things down and NEVER complained.

So I spent hours writing down my thoughts in a diary. I realized that I needed to be more honest and stop tiptoeing around people to make them comfortable

I told my husband that I knew about his past with his ex girlfriend. I knew that they had unresolved feelings and he needed closure about her and their relationship. He kept checking her social media throughout the years but it intensified this year after she was in the car accident.

He was shocked that I knew. I encouraged him to reach out and get that closure he wanted. We had a good conversation. He hugged me and reached out to her pretty much immediately.

I think he was waiting for that push from someone. He was so happy after the conversations they had, he was glowing. She’s apparently coming to our city in a month and they’ll meet in person. He’s been more affectionate and genuinely lighter like there’s a weight off his chest.

I went through the motions of life. I started ignoring calls from my parents. I didn’t want to help out anymore. I was too tired. My mom called and said I was being arrogant and moving away from family before asking me to help with something.

I didn’t reach out to my friends. I have only a few and we would text every day. I realized we texted because I always reached out.

I told someone else about my diagnosis. My neighbor Nancy is a woman in her late seventies. She’s one of the few people I feel seen by. She cares about me and if I had told her about my health issues she would have told me to go to the ER.

I know why I didn’t tell her but I wonder why I hope for care from people who have demonstrated no care for me instead of those that do. She was so worried for me. We had planned a fun day trip to see a flower festival next spring.

I drove home on my first week of the second cycle and for the first time I was exhausted. I had to pull over and rest for an hour before I felt well enough to finish driving home.

I was so exhausted I didn’t want to move and I sat on my driveway. It hit me then that I didn’t have “nsclc stage 2a.” I had lung cancer. I could die. I just started sobbing. All I could think of was the stupid flower festival.

I haven’t lived my life. I love my husband, my family, my friends. But I don’t want to be married to him, I don’t want to cater to my family, and I’m tired of my friends. I want to live. I want to be well enough to drive and see the flower festival with Nancy.

It’s only been a week and half of change and my emotions have gone from low to really high and back low. I’ve been dreaming of my life after I beat cancer and leave my husband and friends.

I don’t even know if I can stick with it but I am determined to be strong. My therapist says change from within can start small or big. She’s proud of me and thinks I can get through this.

And here were the comments on the update.


I wish you'll separate with your husband first of all. Time is short, I think you should do it as soon as possible.


Proud of you. The first and hardest step is admitting a bunch of stuff you refused to see, handle, deal, or acknowledge. You shared alot.

You were a true friend while others were casual. You love your husband and showed him in such a selfless and caring way. Your parents have come to see you as a resource they could exploit. Sometimes no matter how hard you try you can't be a perfect daughter.

Live now. Create bucket lists. Small silly stuff. Medium fun moments. The big awe inspiring moments. Do what you can as you can. Maybe a bucket list for things to do with your husband. Every time you cross stuff off add more stuff.

Keep the list of alive. This way you can keep your motivation alive by always having that next something.

Travel isn't likely a thing you can do much, but there are amazing location documentaries. I have severe chronic illness. My kids and I go on vacations in my bedroom. There is always to experience life even if the ways and means are sideways.

I wish you love and light. Most of all I pray you have strength.


Very happy to see you have got the clarity you needed. Best of luck.

You are not invisible. Repeat after me, "I m not invisible". Take your rightful place in the world.

And update from the flower show will be highly appreciated whenever you go.


Tell your husband to run back to his "love of his life" and leave you alone. Tell your parents in a letter how they failed you and in a letter.

If possible, shift with someone like that old lady or hire a caretaker if financially possible.

You are a person just like all of us who have needs and the first thing you should do is acknowledge that. Not through your cancer but through your are real and you matter.


I hate your husband for you. Nothing can make a person more insecure than marrying someone who very overly isn't over their ex, or was about to leave them at the altar. Never take him back when you make it through this!


You sound awesome, I'm proud of you, and I hope you lose your "husband" in the brambles or elsewhere.

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