Your husband has cancer

“Your husband has cancer”. My defining moment. The moment that I knew that my life would never be the same. Let me take you back to where it all started.

I married my husband when I was 32 after a whirlwind 4 month romance! He was my dream guy. We began a wonderful, happy life in a small house, with wonderful friends and no financial worries. I supported us while my husband built his business. That’s what life partners do; they support each other’s dreams.

5 years later, I went back to grad school to pursue my dream of a Masters degree. I loved learning so much that I went on to study for my PhD. I was thrilled when I got pregnant. It wasn’t easy; a few miscarriages and a high risk pregnancy. Zachary was born in 1996. What a joy. My life became all about unstructured days, learning what it meant to be a mom, and experiencing complete contentment.

Two years later, it was time to start back to school. A week later, my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I will never forget the day I heard the diagnosis. When the surgeon told me the news, I went cold. I knew, like I never knew anything before, that in that moment, my life had forever changed. In the time it took the surgeon to make one statement, my dream shattered. Thus began a long and painful journey of surgery and treatments with me as caregiver, trying to juggle a house under renovation, a sick husband, a big goofy Lab and a 2 year old.

My husband died one year later. He was 37 years old. He left me alone with a 2 ½ year old, no job and no money. Everything we had was invested in the business. We assumed there would be plenty of time to begin to reap the financial benefits of the business. We had no savings. It was the scariest time of my life. Alone and broke. No job. No prospects. No future.

The year before, I had insisted that Tim get life insurance. Thank God. It took 4 months to get that money. I cried with relief.

Of course, I had to do something with that insurance money. But this a minefield, this time through the world of banks, brokerage firms and financial advisors. Within a year, I had lost $100,000, was making negative returns on some investments and was frantic. I repeated over and over: “You know I’m a widow with a small child and no other money”. Was he even listening? Did it even matter to him? I asked myself- didn’t he understand what I was going through?

He talked a language that I didn’t understand. And the more I asked questions, the dumber I felt. What he told me sounded ok. What was wrong with me that I couldn’t seem to grasp what he was saying. I was overwhelmed.

It took 3 years for me to leave. I was exhausted mentally and emotionally from 3 years of what felt like constant change. I kept hoping it would get better. Sound familiar? I finally moved to a different firm.

What’s happening now? I received my PhD in 2007 My dream come true. Out of the darkness, came light. I survived. You always have to. You do it for your kids. You did it for your dreams. You dig deep and you keep on going. You find a reason to get up in the morning and you look for something to hang on to that is greater than yourself. It’s so hard. But you have to do it.

What happened to me and my money? I’m still a work in process. I was dragged, kicking and screaming, into the world of money. I had to learn, I had to face it, and I had to take control. I had to stop looking for somebody to look after me.

Wow! You’ve come a long way baby! I would never have imagined, back in 1999, that I, the confused and overwhelmed woman, would get there. Then again, I thought my life was over and that my future was dark. But I painfully and slowly took control.

MyMoneyMindset was born out of my experience and my struggle. It is born out of my story.