Saturday , January 16 2021

These Canadians found love despite their terminal cancer diagnoses

TORONTO – It could have been a meeting seat in a romantic comedy between a man and a "mutant".

After weeks of online flirting, Patrick Bardos was on her way to meeting Anne Marie Cerato for their first date at a coffee shop in downtown Toronto. He slipped Cerato to let her know that he was only a few blocks away on a packed tram that crawled through busy times. Cerato said she had just passed the same intersection. "Do you have blue shoes?" she asked.

Bardos looked down at his lapis blue sneakers and then up to search for Cerato among the commuters. He felt a pressure on his shoulder. Bardos turned around and there was Cerato, like the photograph on his dating profile – long dark hair and brown eyes sharpened by angled glasses. Even better, unlike many of his earlier dates, he was higher than her.

Tijana Martin / The Canadian press

Anne Marie Cerato and Patrick Bardos in their home in Toronto.

"You're short," the bardos blurted out. "But I'm also short. And that's not what I meant."

Bardos must have said something to resolve himself because the two kept talking until the coffee bar closed. They decided to take a bite at a nearby restaurant and again close the house. It was when Bardos realized that he was late for his own birthday party, so he hurried back to his opportunity to attend his peeved party guests who spent the night listening to him rave about this woman he just met.

As infected as Cerato, when 33 was with Bardos, she knew she didn't have time to waste in a blind relationship. So on their second date, she decided to drop the "bomb".

& # 39; I'm not a stranger, but I'm a mutant & # 39;

Knowing Bardos was a cartoon fan, Cerato tried to soften the wind by appealing to his superhero feelings. "I'm not a stranger," she said, "but I'm a mutant."

To Bardo's disappointment, Cerato admitted that she was not a member of the X-Men. However, she had been exposed to her fair share of radiation in the treatment of some form of lung cancer driven by a genetic mutation.

Tijana Martin / The Canadian press

Patrick Bardos and his wife Anne Marie Cerato in their home in Toronto.

After two years of remission, Cerato had recently learned that the cancer was scattered and the chances were that she would not be around in five years.

This was Bardo's chance of driving for the hills, Cerato said. Bardos took a moment to consider his dilemma: How do you fall in love with knowing that there are losses, imminent?

Cancer like & # 39; litmus test & # 39;

When faced with a disease of life or death, cases in the heart may seem a secondary concern. But cancer can serve as a "litmus test" for a relationship – and many fail, Dr. Robert Rutledge, a Halifax radiation oncologist.

He said that it is not uncommon for people to bond, even marriages, with partners rather than confronting the prospect of losing a loved one to cancer, and by proxy, facing their own mortality.

But while some couples collapse during the disease frame, Rutledge said, for others, it may increase emotional connections. The people who stand by their partners when the end seems to be near tend to be those worth the time the patients have left, he said.

Seated across the "mutant" he fell for, Bardos decided to be that kind of partner for Cerato.

Tijana Martin / The Canadian press

Anne Marie Cerato and Patrick Bardos.

It was in the fall of 2011. Seven years later, Bardos and Cerato married, own a house, travel the world, and even celebrated their "25th anniversary" and adapted their romantic milestones for love on a condensed timeline.

Before meeting Cerato, Bardos said he would awaken between the rumination of the past and the peace of the future. Now Bardos said he is able to immerse himself at the moment so he can use it with her.

"She made me a better person, very fast, just by being herself," he said.

At 40, Cerato said she has statistics despite survival thanks to the latest developments in targeted gene therapy. But when she knew her time was final, she was forced to decide what she could live without and who she couldn't.

"I want it somehow a gift I could realize at about 30 and not in 60 years."

Tijana Martin / The Canadian press

Anne Marie Cerato and Patrick Bardos.

Looks like cancer

For Morgan McNeely in Edmonton, this realization came a month before she turned 25 when she found out she had terminal 4-colon cancer.

After her diagnosis in 2015, McNeely found herself without her studies, her scientific research and her restaurant job, and briefly some relationships she believed she could count on.

She suddenly had a lot of free time on her hands, so she and a friend decided to entertain themselves by swinging through Tinder.

I'm not happy I have cancer, but I'm still grateful for what it has brought me.Morgan McNeely

McNeely struck down a number of suggestions, including a lothario, that offered to help her cross goods from her "sexual forest list".

She was explicitly not looking for love – the last guy she had dated because of her "cancer drama" – but one of her Tinder fights proved persistent and they began to dance.

McNeely was afraid to let her guard down after losing so much. But he told her, "I see you beyond cancer." And soon he helped McNeely see it too.

"I feel lucky every day because of him," she said. "I'm not happy, I have cancer, but I'm still grateful for what it has brought me."

Nevertheless, McNeely said the disease could complicate a relationship. When she and her boyfriend got a cat together, McNeely said they had to consider whether he could take care of the pet without her. When discussing the prospect of marriage, she worries about whether debt related to her illness would transfer to him after she dies.

This is the case for many terminal cancer patients: their main concern is not their own death, but the impact it has on the loved ones they leave behind.

Loan period

Julie Easley is all too familiar with this excitement, not just as a social scientist whose research has focused on young people with cancer but as a survivor who has suffered loss himself.

When Easley met Randy Cable at a bar in Fredericton in 2004, she felt an instant recognition. By 28, Easley's life had recently been assigned to her after hitting stage 2 Hodgkin's lymphoma. Cable, then 29, had been diagnosed with colon cancer and told that he had three months to live – that day the clock had ceased.

From then on, it was love on borrowed time.

Easley knew the isolation that can come to fight cancer. She did research in the hospital where Cable was treated so she started visiting him after work.

There is something about seeing the strength of character and the beauty of the human spirit when you are stripped down to your most vulnerable state.Julie Easley

One night, Cable was afraid to fall asleep after being told he could go to heartbeat at any time. Easley offered to stick to monitoring his breathing. She crawled into bed with him and put her hand over her chest, felt it rise and fall as they both drifted off. Then she slept more often than not and kept her hands all night.

At times, it almost felt like they were a "normal" couple. To entertain, they would pretend the reflection on the television screen revealed another room in their imaginary apartment.

"There is something about seeing the strength of character and the beauty of the human spirit when you are stripped down to your most vulnerable state," she said. "I fell in love with it."

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Easley said it took Cable some time to realize she was more than just the "girl he was sitting with." When Easley first told Cable, she loved him, he became silent. He had told his mother that his biggest regret was that he had never fallen in love, according to Easley, but she had proven him wrong. "I love you too," he said, his eyes thriving with tears.

In the fall of 2005, just over a year after they met, it became clear that the end was near. The cable friends and family came together for his bed, and he asked Easley to climb with him. This time, instead of holding him, he beat her in the arms when he died at. 31st

Thirteen years later, Easley continues to pay tribute to Cable's memory through his work in the young adult cancer community and feel grateful for the memories he gave her.

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"If you ever really want to know the value of life, spend time with someone fighting for each scrap of it," Easley said. "I knew it would end. The part I didn't know is the unexpected beauty that has happened within it."

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