Beth’s husband was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016. He had surgery immediately upon diagnosis and, due to some complications, remained in the hospital for three weeks, where Beth stayed with him the entire time. Her husband eventually went into remission but passed away due to the cancer in 2018.
Beth described her caregiving experience as “ideal” in the sense that her husband’s family was entirely made up of medical personnel, and that her own father had passed from the same cancer that her husband had. Though she had experience and familiarity on her side, caregiving was still extremely difficult. Her husband wanted to maintain his independence throughout and was not the type to ask others for help, so a lot of the care he needed fell on Beth.
Her husband’s care required seeing a doctor in New York, while they lived in D.C. Their insurance did not cover countless Amtrak trips, hotel stays, and food costs between both cities. They were fortunate to have the cost of these things crowdfunded for them through a supportive community. Due to the amount of time her husband spent in the hospital, Beth had to become fluent in the medical language to advocate for him. She had to know when and what medication he needed, and every time there was a new doctor, she had to re-explain his situation and fight for the correct care. Beth’s mindset turned to ignoring her own needs for fear of detracting from what he needed. Having found solace in other young widows, she now looks back and wishes she had been introduced to a group of young caregivers like herself, because nobody else could really understand what she was going through. Their brief time at home towards the end of his life, away from the hospital, was the most precious time to them, even though Beth had to spend that time as his nurse.