My Cancer Story: Remember the Caregiver

Barbara and Cliff

Soon after Dr. Fried gave me the cancer diagnosis, I thought about Cliff.

He’d need to come to appointments, stand by me during surgery, and take care of me afterwards, possibly during months of chemo. He’d do the money and most of the insurance stuff. Cancer would curtail our summer plans and maybe the plans for the rest of our lives.

As the days went by, I knew it was my cancer. The burden was on me (In me! My uterus to be exact).

But I tried to be mindful of how this would affect Cliff, too.

Cliff’s mom and I used to talk for hours. Many of her pronouncements on life proved true, but one didn’t. “When you go into surgery, you go alone,” she told me, recounting the story of her thyroid operation at age forty. Nope. Not me. I took her son with me. I never felt alone.

Our good friend Lisa Flinn wrote Cliff this note two weeks after my surgery:


Lisa's Note

Others too, thought of Cliff. Visitors arrived with a favorite beer for him to enjoy while we all chatted. Those who prepared food sent plenty since they know my husband chows down with gusto.

I’ve made a new vow: Remember the caregiver!

Photo Top: Cliff and I at Mazen’s first birthday last fall. Note the grins of grandparents.

Photo Bottom: Lisa’s note. The “clear to see (even for me)” is in reference to her macular degeneration. Lisa’s a cancer survivor. Read her post, “Tai Chi Brings Balance after Breast Cancer” on Friend for the Ride. 

She’s one of my cancer role models! Others include Frances, Lisa W., Vibeke, Karen, Linda, Mark, and Haralee (Check out her sleepwear line!) Thanks, friends.

20 thoughts on “My Cancer Story: Remember the Caregiver”

  1. A great post about the caregiver. Cancer affects the entire family and many hospitals have support groups for partners, kids, adult children too. Thanks for the shout out!


  2. Great post! I so agree with you. Having someone to turn to, lean on is so important and it sounds like he’s doing a great job!


  3. Such a sweet note from Lisa and well-deserved for Cliff. James and I hadn’t been together long when I had my first lung surgery, but he dealt with some pretty unpleasant stuff in the hospital, including having his bad back and 6’3″ bod in that recliner all night. One of the many reasons I fell in love. 😉


  4. What a beautiful sentiment, and very telling of your marriage to think of Cliff first. You’re right, the caregiver is so often overlooked, and you are so lucky to have a strong, supportive husband Barbara…with a good appetite 🙂


  5. Being a caregiver to my mom this post touched me on a very deep level BUT in 2011 I was diagnosed with something called Felty’s Syndrome and I was very sick. I had 3 blood transfusions and was in ICU for 2 weeks in the hospital for almost 4 weeks total. At the time I had been with my husband for 20 years and I always semi-joked that if I ever got really sick he wouldn’t be able to take it and would be gone. I was never proven any more wrong in my life. He literally moved into the hospital with me. He never left my side. I have basically no immujne system and every morning housekeeping would bring him his supplies so he could personally clean my room to “his” standards although he was always polite about it. He wouldn’t allow anyone to bathe me or dress me. I had 11 Drs. at the time and I can remember one of my doctors standing outside door crying. We immediately thought there was more bad news she was quick to reassure us and wiped her eyes and said “I now know what true love looks like”. I know what a lucky woman to not only survive what I did but to witness those days and everyday sense how much he loves me. CAREGIVERS ROCK!


  6. I love this beautiful posting by Barbara. I know I personally couldn’t have made it through my surgery without my husband. As they were about to administer the anesthesia, my husband in his many ways, told me “long life” — he was waiting for me.


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