Life as a Cancer Caregiver

The to-do list that has helped me with my husband’s cancer diagnosis, my caregiver duties, and self-care.

Miriam Diaz-Gilbert
9 min readAug 9, 2019


Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

According to the American Cancer Society, close to 2 million people will be diagnosed with cancer in 2019. Research shows that 58% of cancer caregivers are female.

In March 2018, I became a cancer caregiver when my husband was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer that metastasized to his right lung.

While numbing and overwhelming, this cancer diagnosis was a wake up call. I shifted gears and began to write a to-do list for my husband and for myself as a new caregiver in the world of cancer.

Self-care is a big part of cancer caregiving. An unhealthy caregiver is good to no one.

These 12 items on my to-do list have helped us to cope with the diagnosis and to keep me strong in my new role as caregiver for the two of us.

Stay Positive

I am a positive person by nature. There are many ways to stay positive after getting a cancer diagnosis.

A positive thinking caregiver will help their spouse/partner to stay positive in their difficult and challenging new journey.

Update Health Insurance Coverage

My husband’s cancer diagnosis could not have come at a worse time. His insurance through his employer was set to expire March 31. His employer was no longer paying for health insurance. He was diagnosed on March 6.

We had to scramble for new health insurance on the healthcare marketplace.

Finding insurance that covered my husband’s new GI doctor, surgeons, pulmonologist, oncologist, radiation oncologist, and the astronomical cost of cancer care was extremely stressful.

We were both ignorant of the enormous cost of cancer care. But I quickly learned.

I picked up an issue of Cancer Care Today in the waiting room. The article, The Cost of Treatment, left me numb. This is our future, our new normal.

The high cost of health insurance premiums. The deductibles. The co-pays. Insurance…



Miriam Diaz-Gilbert

My debut memoir Come What May, I Want to Run: A Memoir of the Saving Grace of Ultrarunning in Overwhelming Times is published. Website: