10 ways cancer enhanced our love story

I didn’t know I was marrying the most thoughtful and kind man in the world. I didn’t know he would keep me laughing until the end. I didn’t know he’d always put me and the kids first.



Photo credit: Pixabay



Well, except maybe during Fantasy Football season. When he played on several teams at once and there was a permanent glaze over his eyes and his brain was smokin’ thinking several steps ahead and he was moving the puzzle pieces around until they all fit together every week. And then he moved them around again the next week.

Other than that, he was pretty much perfect.

I bought a Valentine for Hubby last year. Even though he was no longer with me. Because it described us so well. It reads in part:

I love the story of us. … I love our friendship and everything else that connects us heart and soul, and makes our story unique and beautiful.

That’s exactly what I loved most about us — that we were friends with heart-and-soul connection. That we enjoyed doing life together.

Interestingly, cancer took that good thing we had and enhanced it even further:

1. Cancer caused us to pay attention. To life. To time ticking away. To all the good stuff even as Hubby was slipping away.

2. Cancer rearranged our priorities. When you’re told you have less time to live than you had planned on, then you see more clearly what is truly important. And what isn’t so important, but rather a thief of time.

3. Cancer prompted us to eat better. To eat more healthfully, to enjoy every sandwich.

4. Cancer motivated us to get outdoors. Long walks along Oregon beaches. Rugged trails that led to tops of mountains. Making our own pathways in powdery snow.



Oregon slopes


5. Cancer inspired us to take more road trips. And we did them well together, exploring America’s orange canyons and blue lakes and purple peaks.



Utah canyons


Wyoming lakes and peaks


6. Cancer expanded our community. So many amazingly compassionate, meal-bringing, praying, snow-shoveling, gift-giving, Chai-tea-delivering people who helped carry the load as we walked through the long, slow, sweet good-by. These comrades-in-arm.

7. Cancer coached me in compassion.I don’t like to admit it, but I wasn’t as compassionate as I thought. Adversity changed this for me. And caring for my husband in the last days of his life was a sweet and sacred experience.

8. Cancer plummeted me deeper into love with my husband as I cared for him during his declining days, as he grew weaker, more childlike. As I realized I would never walk this way with him again.

9. Cancer encouraged us to count blessings, of which there were many, even as it stole from Hubby a little more of life each day. There is this day of snow falling, of fireplace lit; this day of friends stopping by; this breath; there is this one more day together.

10. Cancer taught us that someday is nowSo many good memories made during the last ten years of our marriage. The cancer years. Not that we weren’t having fun in the earlier years. But we were always saving and working toward someday. And cancer taught us that someday is now.

A while back, I was browsing through a gift shop that features those wooden-box signs. I came across one that resonated strongly with me. I should have purchased it at the time, because when I returned a couple days later, it was gone. And the salesgirls, while they helped me look for it, couldn’t remember ever seeing a sign like the one I described.

These are the words printed on the box, which express my sentiments exactly:

Every love story is beautiful, but ours is my favorite.

It didn’t just happen on its own, though. To make a beautiful love story, time and effort are required.

It was the wake-up call of cancer—gift—that motivated us to make our love story even more beautiful than it already was by reevaluating our priorities and giving back and making more memories and more fun.

What about you? What are you doing now to live fully, intentionally, appreciatively? What memories are you creating now since there’s no guarantee someday will ever get here?

P.S. If you found this post encouraging or helpful, please share, tweet or pin!


Cancer: Love and loss


5 great reasons to slow down


  1. Phyllis Neal

    Marlys, this is so beautiful!
    I think of you often. Hope you are doing well. Let me here from you as to what you are doing, and how you are.
    You are such a special person
    I pray God will continue to use you in His special plan .
    Phyllis Neal

    • Thank you, Phyllis. Yes, I’m doing well. Looking for a literary agent for my book, and keeping busy with writing, some volunteer work, visiting family, and hiking/snow-shoeing. Life is good.

  2. Nasus

    Marlys, I love seeing the world through your heart and eyes! What a blessing! Thanks for passing the buck, too! Hugs and prayers for you from my heart.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Copyright © 2024 Marlys Johnson