Early Retirement because of Cancer

Occasional Contributor

Early Retirement because of Cancer

I dont know if this is a similar experience by other carers/partners but my husband had (bowel) cancer in Dec 2013.  Subsequent to that he got secondary cancers in his liver (2, about 10 months apart).   He was very lucky and the cancer(s) was caught very early and his outlook should be cancer free.  He has some neuropathy side effects from the chemotherapy treatment.


He was fortunate enough to be on an old superannuation scheme with the public/government sector and could retire early (was meant to be aged 56).  He was able to retire at 53, and he grabbed it with both horns because he feels that the cancer has reduced his life by at least 10 years, and so he wanted to take the opportunity to not have to work for an employer ever again.  His pension was a lot less than he had anticipated, and we have a large mortgage.  I feel that we cannot afford for him to be retired so soon.  He is still very able bodied and fit to be able to work.  But his mindset is that he has put in 30 yrs of employment, he has had cancer and he now wants to enjoy life.   He thinks an employer will not hire someone over 50 with cancer/thinks his chances are slim to be employed (but really he has lost a lot of confidence).   


I do not begrudge him wanting to be retired, especially after having had approx 3-4 yrs of dealing with the cancers.  But he still has responsibilities, a house to pay off and maintain, bills to pay, his 3 adult girls (from his first marriage), travel etc.  Anything other than the mortgage and bills we dont have enough money for, but that doesnt seem to worry him.  He is happily in his own world, tinkering away in his workshop (music and 3D printing) and does next to nothing around the house, while I work full time (plus a side part time job), most of the housework, all of the gardening, I do projects, repairs and maintenance of the house, sort all the bills and his medical appointments (trust me, its easier if I do lol), help my mum and ailing step-father, and the list goes on.


What are peoples opinions about this?  Has anyone else experienced their partner feeling they have a right to remove themselves from reality regardless of their responsibilities to the household and family around them.  He doesnt think he is depressed, and wont take medication for it if he was.   I guess I am trying to get my head around it, as this is not what I would do to my partner, and I realise I need to walk in someone's shoes to be able to preach this, but I know my nature and I wouldnt expect my partner to pick up everything and live on the bare minimum when we still have 20+ working years in us.


Thank you for any guidance you may have.  Regards, LoveLost

Occasional Contributor

Re: Early Retirement because of Cancer

Hi, Lovelost, it sounds like you are in a difficult place right now. You have a long list of responsibilities and they sound like insurmountable obstacles: but are they? The big mortgage - could you down-size? And why are the adult children a responsibility? Look closely at the list of things you feel are vital and maybe re-think the big picture. I have a 39 year old son who has incurable renal cell carcinoma, and I would give anything to watch him tinkering with projects and enjoying life again. His father and grandparents are all passed on. There won't be any children or devoted partner for him, no nice super buffer or savings fund. Just me and some loved ones. You may be right about your partner's attitude of course. But cancer has a long shadow and you have to keep loving the person who is in that shadow. Hope you can sort it all out, my best wishes to you.

Post new topic
Talk to a health professional
Cancer Council support and information 13 11 20Mon - Fri 9am - 5pm
Cancer Information and Support

Online resources and support

Access information about support services, online resources and a range of other materials.

Caring for someone with cancer?

Find out what resources and support services are available to assist you.