Dating after a T-cell lymphoma diagnosis: a love story

As a bald, sick, 26-year-old cancer patient, I wasn’t expecting to fall in love. I only weighed about 100 pounds, was taking multiple medications (each with a different set of side effects) and was generally looking unattractive. But that’s exactly what happened after I met the woman who would eventually become my wife. Laura and I connected through an online Catholic dating service in February 2008. We’d only known each other a few weeks when I was re-diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma — a type of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. I tried to break it off with her, thinking no woman in her right mind would ever want to date a cancer patient. I was wrong. Most people would’ve run the other way, but not her. That’s one reason I knew Laura was “the one” very early on. In fact, the first time we saw each other in person, I thought, “I’ve found my future wife.” Connecting during my non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma treatment Initially, our conversations just made me happy. They gave me something to look forward to and think about during treatment. But as we became closer, our conversations seemed to revolve more around us as a normal couple, not around me and the cancer. Laura treated me as if I wasn’t sick. With her, it sometimes felt like I didn’t even have cancer. Laura visited me in Houston quite a bit while I was preparing for an allogeneic stem cell transplant. And even though I was experiencing memory lapses, joint pain, digestive problems and other side effects, I was happier than I’d been in years. Just having someone there to constantly...