Once I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma at age twenty-five, I was sure my love life would take a backseat during my two-and-a-half-year protocol. Living life as a cancer survivor and hoping that one day marriage and children could be a part of my future seemed more like fantasy than reality.
I found myself going on a date or two with someone and ended what could have been a potential relationship on purpose. What if he found out I was stigmatized with cancer, non-Hodgkins lymphoma and ran for cover? How would I feel? How devastated would he be? Could I handle that kind of rejection based on my medical situation and physical appearance? Wedding? Kids? These questions were far from superficial and bombarded my mind. They were real, to the core. It was fear of rejection, humiliation, and thoughts of what gentleman would want a girlfriend who was bald, gray, and undergoing cancer treatment?
She had a big wig on and with a little makeup no one could tell that she was fighting to survive cancer. She was twenty-five years old going to bars, parties, and every other social function imaginable. Cancer didn’t stop me there. It just kept me from getting into a relationship; actually it was me who stopped me from getting into a relationship. During that time, I gave cancer too much power. Until I put Ronnie. I never would have expected that within nine months of being diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma, love was about to blossom and change my life completely. Yes, it was meant to be.
When Ronnie first asked me out, I was extremely apprehensive. He wanted me to let go of the feelings of insecurity that I allowed to control me while I was on the road to cancer survival. He saw how I handled my cancer diagnoses and was inspired by how he was able to keep a smile on my face every time he saw me. I was relieved by his reaction; however, at that time, I did not dare to exceed the vulnerable state. As a result, I refused to go out with him, thinking I was doing him a favor. Mentally and emotionally he still had my love life on hold. That went on for about six months; however, during that time we became the best of friends. We went to the movies together, we went out to eat, we played golf, we just enjoyed each other’s company.
Regardless of the non-Hodgkins lymphoma, Ronnie was persistent and helped me see that I deserved to be happy in all aspects of my life.
I knew I wanted to be with him, just like he wanted to be with me. It was so surreal that someone like him would accept me as a bride, with no hair and a blotchy gray complexion. He gave me the confidence to feel secure in our relationship as it progressed, ultimately culminating in true love. He became my rock and never asked for anything in return, only my health and happiness. We got married on our fourth anniversary and sixteen months later we had the first of three *miraculous* children.
We feel our relationship just as strongly, if not stronger than before. We were given the opportunity to have children, something the doctors were sure would never happen. The cancer protocol was supposed to put my twenty-five-year-old body into menopause. The love and appreciation I have for my husband and children will never be taken for granted, not after living with cancer. Non-Hodgkin lymphoma, marriage and children: it was all meant to be.