One month before my third child was born, I was thrust into intense caregiving for my physician husband when he was diagnosed with cancer. Our other two children were ages four and six at the time. For the next 12 years, I was the healthy parent helping my husband through nonstop cancer treatments, while raising our three minor children.
I have a Ph.D. in preventive medicine and environmental health and am a registered dietitian nutritionist. Prior to my husbands cancer, I owned a private clinical nutrition practice. Currently, I teach food and nutrition courses at California State University, Sacramento, and at The University of California, Davis.
I am passionate about helping the healthy parent who is caring for their partner or spouse with cancer and raising minor children. A parental diagnosis of cancer is a family experience that changes the lives of all its members, bringing an immense amount of stress and many challenging situations. The daily routine, common activities, and distribution of duties change when one parent is diagnosed with cancer. Research has shown that family caregivers, such as the healthy parent caring for their spouse with cancer, follow the same phases of the disease, very often suffering comparable or greater distress than the patient. Yet, we have few groups advocating for the healthy parent’s needs in this situation.
My hope is that as our stories of challenges and triumphs are told, we will start a larger conversation about parenting through cancer.