She thought she was over her ex’s infidelity and then the Other Woman turns out to be a survivor of the same STD diagnosis — HPV cervical cancer.
Dear Chump Lady,
My story is the same as so many here. Highlights including being left with a 5 year old and a newborn, humiliating pick me dancing, multiple attempts to convince me I was insane, financial abuse, character assassination, discovered I had HPV, the list goes on. Divorce has been final for years, FW has never fully utilized visitation, kids are in therapy, I officially graduated therapy (yay!), both FW and Schmoopie have been blocked on everything but essential platforms for years, life has moved on.
But it’s also been tough.
During the pandemic I was diagnosed with aggressive cancer.
Near the end of my active treatment I also had to have a full hysterectomy, partially due to my body not being able to fully resolve the HPV, even with treatment. I know that HPV can be tricky and it’s possible it wasn’t a gift from FW and Schmoops, but I also know my own history and it’d be one hell of a stretch.
Which brings me to the gut punch.
I was scrolling and an article featuring *Schmoopie the cervical cancer survivor* shows up on my cancer center’s page. Schmoopie’s smiling PR face and a #woman power #self care #survivor message. Schmoopie virtue signaling how going to tough appointments is the #selfcare that caught her HPV turned cancer. Quite possibly the same HPV strain that cost me body parts. Her photo along with FW’s last name added on to hers. Another sad little point of interest as FW has never even mentioned the existence of Schmoopie to the kids.
I’m right back in a trauma response.
Physically ill, shaky, verge of tears, nightmares, you name it. It has taken everything I have to ask friends to refrain from blowing up the post. To refrain from it myself. I did reach out to the cancer center’s media office to request her face and name be removed but to leave the awareness message. I thought that was fair. But now I’m relearning how those sorts of things go. I’m being told to essentially let it get buried in the feed. To get over it. That my reaction is the problem.
As sickening as her being in the same space as me is, the apparent marriage, the STD connection, the horrifying gumline, it’s the public face of virtue that’s the hardest to stomach. Having to coexist with Schmoopie the effin hero is one hell of a shit sandwich to hold over my lifesaving care.
I don’t feel mighty.
I’m surviving. I’m thankful. I have help so many others don’t. I’m seeing my kids grow already past the point I would have. And I’m holding tight to every glimmer of wonderful I can.
So why is this #sisterhoodselfcare Schmoopie bullshit bringing it all back up? The amount of documentation I have of FW and Schmoopie behind the scenes is obscene as it is banal.
I don’t need to trust they suck, I have gigabytes of proof. And I know it’s just another steaming slice of sparkle turd pie. So why am I back to trauma square one on this one?
When my life literally depends on it, how do I get back to meh?
Cancer’s a bitch and so am I.
Dear Cancer’s a bitch,
Yeah, the Other Woman has an STD that could kill you is never brought up in the infidelity discourse. Affairs are exuberant acts of defiance… that end in biopsies. Think Esther skipped that one.
What a coincidence that Schmoopie appears to have the same strain of cancerous HPV that you had. Could your ex have given two women cervical cancer from his wandering dick? Or could she have given it to you?
Unfortunately HPV is incredibly common and we’ll never know.
Over 90 percent of sexually active men and 80 percent of women will have it in their lifetimes. But of course, this is supposed to be one of the comforts of monogamy — not having your sexual health risked.
And the epic shit sandwich for chumps is that their health is risked and it’s all a bit of a shrug. Think of the last hundred articles you’ve read on infidelity, any that mention Esther Perel, or the naughty fun of being a mistress and tell me if ANY of them mention sexually transmitted diseases?
They don’t. Because that’s a bummer. Gets in the way of the Heart Wants What the Heart Wants narrative. You’re just a spot of collateral damage on the way to their journey of greater self actualization.
Speaking of damage…
Having Schmoopie as the brave face of the disease sucks.
I’m sorry the hospital media were callous with your grief. But I’m not sure any media outfit would know how to react to that request, other than say “Don’t look at that page.” Their marketing trumps your feelings about Schmoops. But I get that it’s a huge shit sandwich for you.
I’m at a loss for how to deal with it too. Except I might be so bold as to tell everyone at my cancer center — Hey! You’ll never believe this! My ex-husband’s mistress (NAME HERE) got cancerous clap too! Isn’t that a COINCIDENCE! You might want to screen anyone who slept with (NAME OF MY EX)! He’s quite the disease vector!
I’m imagining that Game of Thrones shame bell.
Alas, if it feels good, don’t do it. Drat.
The only thing I’d add to this “I’m sorry it sucks” lame advice is, don’t let them take your safe place. Your cancer center is still your cancer center. They’re helping you stay alive. They have to help everyone. Even cheaters. Forget them, focus on you. The hospital center can’t love you back. They don’t have to protect your feelings, but they ARE allies in kicking cancer’s butt. Schmoops can’t take that from you.
And if this is any comfort, consider that your ex isn’t good with vulnerable people. He left you with a 5-year-old and a newborn. Her cancer isn’t sparkles. It takes a lot of time from him. And no glossy promotional brochure can change that. I don’t predict a good outcome.
Stay strong — you’re the mightiest!