When you first meet Tina and Lance, a bubbly young couple from St. Louis, you are struck by their vivaciousness. They are full of life, extremely personable and can finish each other’s sentences. After dating for more than two years, they have recently become engaged. They are happy. And why wouldn’t they be? They seem to be the picture of a stereotypical young couple in love, planning a wedding with the world at their feet. “We have fun together and make each other smile, no matter what the day may bring,” Lance said.
And while lots of couples make that statement, very few have made it a reality in the manner of Tina and Lance. When the couple met through a mutual friend in December 2008, Tina was undergoing chemotherapy to treat stage four Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma that had metastasized to her brain. “I remember wondering how anyone could be interested in a girl who has cancer,” Tina said. “However, Lance was such a gentleman and so kind-hearted. It just didn’t seem to matter to him.”
The two began to date, as Tina continued with her treatments. “I didn’t tolerate chemotherapy very well,” she said. “I was constantly feeling ill, weak, fatigued, nauseous and depressed. But through it all, I must admit, Lance was my saving grace. After we met he was by my side through the rest of my treatments.”
To celebrate the end of her treatments and her subsequent remission, Lance surprised Tina with a bouquet of roses and a teddy bear. The couple looked forward to a future free of hospitals, treatments and doctors appointments. Tina teased Lance, “If I love you this much today, I can’t wait to see how much I love you tomorrow.” Unfortunately, fate planned to test their love once again.
In early 2011, Lance was diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis (FSGS), a genetic condition and form of end-stage renal failure. Now it’s Tina who accompanies Lance to his doctors appointments, dialysis sessions and has been there for him during multiple surgeries. “I’m a nurse, which helps,” said Tina. “I am able to provide extra care at home, ask the right questions to the doctors and understand how to beat this disease.” The long-term prognosis for Lance is a kidney transplant.
Unable to wait a day longer, on March 3, 2011 Lance grabbed the hand of the woman who had become his best friend, his caregiver and his partner through anything and ask her to be his wife. “It was one of the happiest days of my life,” Tina said. On June 27, 2011 the two will be married in a beautiful ceremony given to them by 501 c 3 nonprofit organization Wish Upon a Wedding.
On that day, their only plan is to celebrate their love for each other. It will be a day without doctors, hospitals or surgeries. A day without dialysis. A day filled with happiness and celebration, together, as husband and wife. “We may not have it all together,” Tina said. “But together we have it all.”
Photos courtesy of Untamed Heart Photography!