Cancer/Spouse

Cancer Changes Things

It’s already July!  What a year!

My mother made it through her cancer treatment and was told she does not currently have any signs of cancer at this time. YES!

My middle daughter graduated high school and was accepted into her dream college for the fall term, YES!

However, in February my husband was diagnosed with stage four cancer that has metastasized.  He has been out of work since March and in April I went on FMLA (Family Medical Leave Act) from my teaching position to be with him/take to appointments/stay in the hospital with him, etc.  I was fortunate that after using all of my available leave taking my mother to her appointments, my generous co-workers donated some of their own leave time which was a big help financially.  In two months he has been through two surgeries,  two week-long hospital stays, and numerous doctor appointments.  I feel as if our world has been picked up, shaken like a snow globe, thrown back down, and now we must pick up the pieces.

I have always been a “planner” and I have really had to step back and let things flow.  We are not just day to day now but often moment to moment.  We don’t know how my husband will feel and what will happen next. (Do we ever really?)

Due to this “new normal” we have had to make some changes.  A couple of weeks ago we did a major downsize and moved from North Carolina back to Florida to be closer to family/friends.  I resigned from my teaching position in NC and have accepted a new position in FL which will begin in August.  However, I worry about how a teaching position plays out with doctor appointments and treatments and the additional workload  & energy teaching requires even when not at “work”.  I have to wonder would we not be better off if I worked a different job with later hours that would make me available during the day?

Everything I read about coping when a spouse has cancer assumes that both parties in the relationship are retired.  I don’t see very much information on how to balance finances and work.  We went through a big chunk of change in the beginning because my spouse did not have health insurance and doctor co-pays were out of pocket.  He did eventually qualify for medicaid however we have a deductible of $23,000 we are responsible for.  Moving out of state, we have purchased a plan through the Health Insurance Marketplace but that will be null and void once I resume teaching in August and have health insurance through my employer (which is not really all that great).   While my husband is eligible for social security disability due to his type of cancer being on a Compassionate Allowance List, who knows when those payments will actually begin.  I would love to hear from others on how to manage home/work/finances during a time such as this.  I know we are not the only ones.