The first year of a new relationship is often referred to as the ‘honeymoon phase’ because everything is so fun and exciting. You both get butterflies before seeing each other, agree on basically everything, and can’t keep your hands off each other. But for me and Danny, things didn’t exactly go that way.
Our ‘honeymoon phase’ was cut short when on our six month anniversary, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.
I first met Danny at a bar called Iggy’s in New York City. A mutual friend introduced us. When we started talking, we discovered we grew up 20 minutes away from each other in New England. What are the chances? To break the ice, he showed me his Eagle Scout card and jokingly asked me if I was impressed. It made me laugh and I was instantly hooked to his witty sense of humor.
The first few months of our relationship were pure bliss. We spent a lot of time exploring the city together, bar hopping on the Lower East Side, and staying up all hours of the night talking about life.
Then, six months into dating, the fun came to an unexpected halt and life took a turn for the worst.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the young age of 23. I had lost my mother to breast cancer when I was only four years old, so to say this was a nightmare is truly an understatement. On the day I got diagnosed, I immediately texted Danny and asked him to come meet me. I told him that something was very wrong. His office was only a few blocks away from the radiologist’s office, so he arrived within minutes, but it felt like an eternity. Questions of agonizing doubt raced through my mind:
“Would I survive? Would treatment be painful? Would Danny leave me? If he didn’t leave me, was it even fair to drag him through this?”
When Danny showed up, he found me standing outside on the street corner in the pouring rain. I was still in complete shock, unable to fully process the life altering news I had just received. Danny and I were so young and our relationship was still so new. Add cancer into the mix, and I never expected him to stick around.
But he did stick around. And he never left my side.
Danny was there every step of the way. He came with me to all of my doctor’s appointments, was by my side during my double mastectomy surgery, and held my hand through multiple rounds of chemo. He was truly my rock through it all. And the most amazing part is that he continued to treat me exactly the same. While everyone else was walking on eggshells around me, Danny continued to make me laugh with his same sarcastic jokes and comments just as he had always done before I got sick. I can’t explain how helpful it was to have that sense of normalcy in my life while fighting cancer.
Danny is so strong and has such an amazing way of controlling his emotions, even when everyone else around him is freaking out. He was the source of calm throughout this entire journey. He was also such an amazing support to my family – He would make small talk with them in the waiting room for hours and try to distract them when they were upset.
During treatment, Danny bought me a new pair of running shoes – purple ones because that’s my favorite color. It was his reminder to me that one day soon, we’d be spending the days walking the streets of NYC together again, just as we always loved to do. And he was right.
A few weeks later, the doctor cleared me to return to my normal activities because I was CANCER FREE.
Now every year, on the anniversary date of my diagnosis, Danny and I both take off work and spend the day walking around New York City. Even though it’s a date that’s connected to something so traumatic, we chose to turn it into something to celebrate. Now it’s one of my favorite days of the year. When you survive cancer, you learn to look at the positive side of things. You also learn that life is a gift that can be taken away in an instant – so it’s important to spend every moment you can with the people you love.