My Husband Endured Cancer Twice in 5 Years: This is What I’ve Learned as a Cancer Caregiver

Miriam Diaz-Gilbert
5 min readApr 7
Photo by frank mckenna on Unsplash

March is National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. In March 2018, my husband Jon had a colonoscopy that revealed a large mass. It was stage IV cancer. The cancer metastasized to his lungs. I became a cancer caregiver.

In this post, I share what I’ve learned during the last five years as a cancer caregiver and as my husband’s companion on his cancer journey, not once but twice.

To-do List

My to-do list included helping my husband prepare an advance directive/a living will, a last will and testament, and scheduling all of his MRIs, scans, chemo, radiation, surgery, and doctor appointments.

With a cancer diagnosis comes other life planning matters. Don’t wait for a cancer diagnosis to finally propel you to create an advance directive. Every state has advance directive templates. You can access them here. There is no time like the present or the shock of a cancer diagnosis to whip that last will and testament into shape or to update it. You do not need an attorney. This website has last will & testament instructions for every state. However, it may be advisable to consult an attorney for estate planning.

Practice Positivity

I am a positive person. I always see the glass more than half-full. My husband is the half-empty glass kind of guy. I suppose we are evidence that opposites attract. This might explain why we have been best friends for almost forty-four years and married for almost thirty-eight years.

It wasn’t always easy to help Jon stay positive as he endured chemo, aggressive radiation, and several surgeries. But there are many ways to stay positive after getting a cancer diagnosis.

Be a Patient Advocate

When I became a cancer caregiver, I become a patient advocate. As positive as I am, being a cancer caregiver and a patient advocate is grueling. As a caregiver and support, I made all of Jon’s appointments for a slew of MRIs, CT scans, blood work, and related appointments.

Accompanying my husband to his chemo infusions, his radiation treatments, asking questions and taking notes, waiting hours for him to…

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: