After multiple biopsies over many weeks (Scott said he felt as if he were an Ikea desk being drilled into), his doctor called to deliver the diagnosis. We pulled off the highway and put her on speakerphone. It was osteosarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer that afflicts some 800 Americans a year. It appeared to have spread. The five-year survival rate for multifocal osteosarcoma is 30 percent.
After we hung up, Scott — vegan, athlete, artificial intelligence engineer, the kind of person who adds turmeric to all his food — took my hand. Together for five years, we were only 32.
“Don’t worry,” he said. “I’ve never been below the top 30 percent for anything. But if something happens to me, I want to make sure you’re taken care of. Let’s get married now.”
We scheduled Scott’s below-the-knee amputation for 10 days later, a Monday. Our friends announced they were throwing us a wedding in Golden Gate Park the day before the surgery.
After our honeymoon (spent on the seventh floor of the hospital, followed by my mother-in-law moving into the apartment next door for two weeks), we received more bad news: The other suspicious spots meant he would have to undergo six cycles of intensive chemotherapy, during which he would need to live in the hospital. Two major surgeries would also be required to remove the lesions.
We faced the hardest year of our lives. Covid precautions would make it hard for friends or family to help or even visit, and the hospital would only allow Scott a single visitor per day. I looked into the future and saw night after night of coming home to an empty apartment, numbing myself with pizza and Netflix, and thought: We can’t do this by ourselves.
After that night, it was clear that while I was taking care of certain tasks, I had no idea how to really help. Books on caregiving don't really...