When a Marine meets a girl and together … they meet cancer

Heather and Larry Jose on their wedding dayThis week my husband and I are celebrating our 18th anniversary. We met right before I turned 21 at a summer camp while on summer break. He was 23, recently out of the Marines, and in school to become a teacher. My dad told me shortly after I started dating him that he liked him. “He’s the first guy you’ve dated who doesn’t need you to take care of him. He can do it himself.”

The last words that the pastor who married us said were, “May God give you enough challenges to keep you close to Him and to each other.”

I don’t recall thinking anything of that prayer until I found out that I had cancer. We were 3 1/2 years into our marriage. After that I remember mentioning that to Larry and he said he had thought of it as well.

Cancer, as well as the side affects like infertility, has been our challenge. And it has brought us closer together. It changed our perspective early on in life and it led us to learn things that some people might not have to until they are old. It changed our priorities and made life crystal clear.


In the interview for my book Larry had this to say: “Cancer changed Heather; it changed me; and it changed our marriage. I know about couples that are torn apart by cancer. I don’t understand this. This challenge proved we were on the same team.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have reflected on how grateful I am for my husband. Grateful that he can take care of himself and our family, that he is a gifted teacher and coach and he has used that to encourage me. Grateful that we are partners and friends. Grateful that through it all he loves me for who I am.

Larry has taken the role of caregiver in stride. He has logged more hours in waiting rooms than most men his age. He understands that some days are better than others. He has a perspective that is years beyond his actual age.

We aren’t doing anything that would be considered special for our anniversary. Being that it falls on Memorial Day this year and our daughter plays in the band we will start the day off with not one but two parades in neighboring towns. We will spend the day together, maybe on the boat or working on the garden.

You know what’s truly special this week for us? The fact that we are healthy enough to have normal days together.

Please, will you take a moment to share your thoughts? I’d love to see comments, below, about your experiences with marriage. And, I would appreciate it if you would click the Facebook button with this column and share this with your friends.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. Debra says

    Beautiful story, Heather. I remember reading an interview with a counselor once
    who said she knew the couple’s who would make it (after receiving a devastating diagnosis)
    were the ones who reached for one another’s hands. In Jewish numerology 18 symbolizes
    life. Wishing you and Larry many multiples of 18 as you go forward, hand in hand.

  2. James C. Higgs says

    Larry, from his early days at Chippewa Hills, has always been an inspiration to me. He has always seemed to have priorities straight, even in the middle of a tough football season. This story is very revealing as to the character we see reflected in his speech and demeanor. Thank-you for sharing.

  3. Richard Anderson says

    Beautiful story, Heather. Wanted to let Larry, your husband know about the Well [email protected] Association, which offers peer support to husbands, wives or partners of someone with a chronic illness. We offer free Supporting Membership to military spousal caregivers.

    I was a caregiver for 29 of the 31 years my wife and I were married, she developed a chronic illness 2 years into the marriage; and I was with her until she died. It can be a lonely life, but it helps a lot when you know others in that situation and can give support and share in bad moments and good!

    Wishing you the best,