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 reinforce the good
things in life made the experience easier to bear and put me in a much
better mood.

Even when we talked about my cancer, everything Laura said was
positive. She told me funny stories and prayed for me a lot. Those
things may not sound like much, but to me, they made a world of difference.

Love and parenthood after my allogeneic stem cell transplant

Any woman who can endure the hard times when her boyfriend is
fighting cancer is definitely a keeper. So naturally, when Laura stood
by my side through it all, it only reinforced my belief that she was
“the one.” I proposed in February 2009, and we married in July of that
same year.

When Laura still hadn’t gotten pregnant after we’d been married a
few years, we decided to expand our family through adoption. I’d been
told that the stem cell transplant would probably leave me sterile,
but I chose not to bank my sperm beforehand. We decided to let God
grow our family the way He wanted to.

That’s how Audrey came into our lives in 2013, and Aaron in 2015.
And it’s how we’re hoping to bring another child into our family.

I can’t imagine my life without Laura and our beautiful children.
Our road to marriage and parenthood wasn’t the traditional one, but
it’s still a miracle.

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