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Oh F***, You’re the One

by Madi FishtromSurvivor, Hodgkin's LymphomaSeptember 8, 2023View more posts from Madi Fishtrom

In 2017, I was an undergraduate student at the University of California, Santa Cruz. One of my (many) jobs was in the IT Office on campus at the Helpdesk. This cute guy would walk up to my desk and chat with me, and I thought he was a graduate student until he asked if I was in a large lecture class. I was and so was he! We found out we were both majoring in Technology Information Management and began studying together. After our winter quarter-final for the class we had together, he asked me out to pizza and our relationship began to form.

We’ve been through so much together; the loss of his grandpa who was his best friend, his graduation in 2018, my graduation in 2019, a global pandemic where we lived apart, my mom’s breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, me losing a job, and both of us going to graduate school. In December 2022, he took me to the ER because he had a bad feeling about a cough I had for a few months. In the wee hours of the morning, he held my hand while a doctor I had never seen before told me I had lymphoma. He came to the hospital every day even though visitor hours were still extremely limited due to COVID-19. When my diagnosis was confirmed and I had fertility testing, he sat by my side and told me that whatever I decided to do, it was my choice and we would figure out our future family through whatever options I felt comfortable with. He continues to sit with me through scary doctor appointments and chemotherapy infusions. I always knew I had loved him, but now I knew that a life without him was not one that I wanted to experience.

On April 14, 2023, it was our six-year anniversary. He took the day off of work and I was feeling strong enough to venture out for a picnic at the beach. We were enjoying the sunny day at Natural Bridges Beach, a place we frequented regularly in college and still visit whenever we are in town. He was pointing out a patch of driftwood trees on the beach and telling me about how he and his siblings took photos there as children and how he’d love to do that with me someday. In my typical fashion, I said we’d need to have a reason to take photos, like an engagement or something. Next thing I knew he was pulling a ring box out of his pocket and asking me to marry him. I was so shocked! I happily said yes and we excitedly called our families.

This bright spot during my chemotherapy process is something I will never forget. I still have four infusions left and the thick of it is the worst part to be in, but looking forward to all these big life events is helping me to keep going. I haven’t come this far to only come this far. And now I know for certain that however far I go, I won’t be going at it alone.

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