3 Lessons I Learned From My Husband’s Cancer

Updated: May 26

Written by: Marika Humphreys, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Have you ever received news that totally changed everything in an instant? One minute your life is going along as expected and the next everything has been turned upside down? Well, that is exactly what happened to me.

Totally Unexpected News

It was mid-July in California and it was hot. I was coming home from a work trip. I was meeting my husband and my 5-year-old at a town about 45 minutes from the airport. There was a Peach Festival going on and we were going to walk around and spend a nice afternoon before heading home. We had a nice time and were chatting as we drove home. Then, out of the blue, my husband glanced at me in the car and said those dreaded words no wife wants to hear.

“There is something I need to tell you.”

My heart sank. We had a good marriage, and I had no reason to doubt it, but there was something about his tone of voice... I felt like he was about to tell me he’d had an affair and I unconsciously braced for what I expected him to say.

I was wholly unprepared for what he told me instead.

“They found a cancerous tumor in my arm.”

What? I couldn’t even process that information. He had been seeing a physical therapist for what we thought was a rotator cuff injury.


It felt like overnight, the rug was pulled out from under us. Over the next weeks and months, everything shifted for us. Our whole life changed. Our future, which had seemed so predictable, was now filled with uncertainty.

The Long Haul

Getting the initial news of your partner’s cancer diagnosis is life-altering. In one moment, everything you thought you knew about your life and your future changes. Over time, as you adjust to living with cancer as a shadow over your life, sometimes for years, it is a different kind of challenge. It’s like running a marathon you never trained for.

What Made The Difference

Somehow we got through the first couple of years. He had chemo, then surgery, then more chemo… It was hell, but we got through it. Then life slowly went back to a new normal. A few years go by.

And then he got a brain tumor. While in the hospital, we found out the cancer from before had spread to his chest. I remembered the utter grief I felt and the prospect of going through it all again. This was his second cancer in 3 years and we were reeling. Stress was high as he recovered from brain surgery, went through radiation, and we contemplated how to approach the cancer in his chest. We had been arguing in the car as we drove to a specialist several hours away.

To take his mind off things, he searched for a podcast and found The Life Coach School podcast. As I napped in the car, he listened and after just an hour or so, his mood totally changed. He shared it with me and we both became avid listeners.