Here, they're pictured at Lake Tahoe after Penny traveled 3,000 miles for her first date with Don. "When she passed, I buried her with mine and kept hers to always remind me to keep fighting." Love was the furthest thing from Don Stranathan’s mind in October 2011 when the Santa Rosa, California, lung cancer patient answered a question about juicing from a woman on the online patient community Inspire.
I thought he’d be shocked when I showed up with hardly any hair, no eyebrows and scratching from the lymphedema tape, but he wasn’t. “He’s also good company and has a great sense of humor. We laugh sometimes that I had to go through all of that just to meet him because he lives only five miles away. Just keep your chin up.” Stage 4 lung cancer patients Don Stranathan and Penny Blume met on the online patient community in the fall of 2011 and quickly fell in love.
We’re both kind of goofy and have had some great times.” The lovebirds, who both have kids about the same age, plan to spend this Valentine’s Day watching one of them compete in the Mountain West Finals swim meet. Was she surprised to find love in the midst of cancer treatment? They spent 26 months together before Blume succumbed to the disease in early 2014.
Stranathan, then 59, gamely offered to fly out and buy her dinner for the occasion. The pair clicked and spent several days traveling around Lake Tahoe and Mendocino, falling in love.
They couldn’t move in together since they were both in treatment on opposite sides of the country, so instead, they met up every six weeks.
Fear; financial devastation; the loss of body parts and/or sexual function; the stress of watching someone you care about grow weaker and possibly die: that's a lot for any partner to take on.
But getting dumped after diagnosis isn’t the only storyline when it comes to love in the time of cancer.Joan Campbell and her new fiance, Larry, met while she was going through treatment for breast cancer; they shared the same massage therapist who suggested they connect."My advice to others is it can work out," she said.Karen Syrjala, co-director of Fred Hutch’s Survivorship Program."That said, cancer can add a new layer to the complexities of explaining who we are to a new person, and it can introduce a few new insecurities about body image, feeling desirable, feeling vulnerable and wondering if a new person will want to take a chance with someone who’s had cancer." This Valentine’s Day, we decided to look at three couples touched by cancer who’ve been able to divorce themselves from the challenges of the disease and its treatment — and find true love.Unfortunately, his idea of helping was to give her a horrible cold that promptly segued into a months-long sinus infection, sleep through her middle-of-the-night calls for help and complain that she wasn’t any fun anymore.