My husband Roly and I met in early 2002 in the haze of deep grief. We both lost our spouses of 31 years just weeks apart. Although 20,000kms apart, we developed the strongest bond imaginable. We supported each other as only people who have been through the trauma of watching a loved partner slipping away slowly can. My first husband had had melanoma whilst Roly's wife had had breast cancer.
When we met again in person later that year it was obvious to both of us that this was to be a great union, in which we could freely express our sorrows and continue to celebrate our previous loving and long marriages. Not everyone understood how we could move on together so soon, however, they did not understand that we never intended to forget our first loves. As we took our vows in April 2004, we privately pledged to each other to not only allow expressions of joy at being together, we would also allow the other to express left over emotions at anytime.
Our lives were to change forever when just six weeks after our wedding day, following the second BreastScreen mammogram since being widowed; we were called back. We huddled together as they announced I had breast cancer. We can talk about it now but we both agree we felt dismay and disbelief that we would have to endure this. Why us? The initial shock soon gave way to a shared resolve to deal with this setback. During the struggles we told each other every day we were both very lucky people.
A lesser man would have 'bolted' given the eight years of struggle and pain Roly had witnessed with his first wife.
Instead I had been delivered a strong man who had already learned, the hard way, how to deal with the trauma of breast cancer. I did worry he would crumble under the strain of the aftermath. My operation and treatment were challenging, as I was not the calmest patient and many things went awry. The harder things were, the closer we became.
Fours years on, I am extremely well and we live every day as if it is our last. We enjoy sunsets and flowers and friends and family so much more. We frolic and play like children whenever we can.
Sometimes those old memories still come back and can cause moments of happiness and/or sadness or, occasionally, still some anger. But always we hug and remind each other how lucky we are to have had such love-filled lives.