TORONTO – It could be a nice meeting in a romantic comedy between a man and a "mutant"
After a few weeks of online flirting, Patrick Bardos was going to meet Ann Marie Surato on their first date at a cafe in downtown Toronto. He wrote to Surato to inform her that he was only a few blocks away on a packed tram crawling at rush hour. Surat said she had just passed the same intersection. “Do you wear blue shoes?” She asked.
Bardos looked at his blue lapis sneakers, then looked up to find Surat among the thicket of passengers. He felt a knock on his shoulder. Bardos turned around, and there was Surato, as in the photo in her profile of acquaintances – long dark hair and brown eyes, sharpened by angular glasses. And even better, unlike many previous dates, he was above her.
"You're short," blurted Bardos. “But I am also small. And that is not what I meant.
Bardos must have said something to redeem himself, because they continued to speak until the coffee shop closed. They decided to have a snack at a nearby restaurant and closed the house again. It was then that Bardos realized that he was late for the celebration of his birthday, so he rushed back to his apartment to take care of his irritated guests at the party, who had been listening all night as he enthusiastically responded to this woman he had just met.
Despite the fact that 33-year-old Surat was in Bardos, she knew that she did not have time to lose deadlock relations. Therefore, on the second date, she decided to drop the "bomb."
Knowing that Bardos was a fan of comics, Surat tried to soften the blow by appealing to his feelings as a superhero. "I am not a stranger," she said, "but I am a mutant."
To the disappointment of Bardos, Surat admitted that she was not a member of the X-Men. However, she was exposed to a significant amount of radiation in the treatment of a form of lung cancer caused by a genetic mutation.
After two years of remission, Surato recently learned that her cancer has spread, and there are chances that in five years she will not.
According to Surato, this was Bardos’s chance to run for the hills. Bardos took a moment to consider his dilemma: how to fall in love, knowing that loss is inevitable?
When you face a disease with a share of life or death, heart problems may seem secondary. But cancer can serve as a litmus test for relationships — and many fail, said Dr. Robert Rutledge, a Halifax oncologist.
He said that people often break ties, even marriages, with partners, and do not face the prospect of losing a loved one due to cancer and by proxy face their own mortality.
But while some couples are collapsing under the stress of the disease, Rutledge said, for others it can strengthen emotional ties. According to him, people who support their partners, when the end seems close, are worth the time that patients have gone.
Sitting opposite the “mutant” for whom he fell in love, Bardos decided to be such a partner for Surat.
This was in the fall of 2011. Seven years later, Bardos and Surato got married, owned a home, traveled the world, and even celebrated their “25th anniversary,” setting their romantic milestones for love in a short time.
Before meeting Surato Bardos, he said that he would fluctuate between thinking about the past and worrying about the future. Now, Bardos said that he can dive into the moment, so he can spend it with her.
“She made me better, very quickly, just by being herself,” he said.
At 40, Surato said that she had challenged survival statistics with recent developments in targeted gene therapy. But knowing that her time is limited, she was forced to decide without which to live, and with whom – no.
"I feel that, in a sense, it is a gift that I could understand at 30, not at 60."
For Morgan McNeely in Edmonton, this happened a month before she turned 25, when she learned that she had colon cancer in the fourth stage.
After the diagnosis was made in 2015, McNeely was left without study, research and work in a restaurant, as well as with several relationships that she thought she could count on.
Suddenly, she had a lot of free time, so she and her friend decided to have fun, spending on Tinder.
McNealy rejected a number of proposals, including one lotario, who offered her assistance in striking out items from her "list of sexual buckets."
She was clearly not looking for love – the last boy she met broke up because of her “cancer drama”, but one of her matches in Tinder turned out to be insistent, and they started dating.
Having lost so much, McNeely was afraid to let her guard down. But he told her: "I see you outside of cancer." And soon he helped McNealy to see that too.
“I was lucky every day because of him,” she said. "I'm not glad that I have cancer, but I am still grateful for what he brought to me."
However, McNeely said that illness can complicate relationships. When she and her boyfriend gathered the cat together, McNealy said they needed to think if he could take care of the pet without her. When they discuss the prospect of marriage, she worries about whether the debts related to her illness will be transferred to him after her death.
This applies to many incurable cancer patients: their main concern is not their own death, but the impact it will have on loved ones that they leave behind.
Julie Isley is too familiar with this intensity, not only as a sociologist, whose research was focused on young people with cancer, but also as a survivor who herself suffered a loss.
When Easley met Randy Cable at a bar in Fredericton in 2004, she felt instant recognition. At 28, Isley's life was recently returned to her after her victory over Hodgkin's lymphoma stage 2. A 29-year-old Cable was diagnosed with colon cancer, and was told that he had only three months left to live – that day the clock ended.
Since then, it was love at another time.
Easley knew that isolation could be related to the fight against cancer. She did research at the hospital where Cable was treated, so she began visiting him after work.
One night, Cable was too afraid to fall asleep when he was told that he could go into cardiac arrest at any time. Isley offered to stay to watch his breath. She crawled into bed with him and laid her hand on his chest, feeling her rise and fall as they both swim away. After that, she slept more often, holding hands all night.
Sometimes it seemed that they were a “normal” couple. To entertain themselves, they pretended that the reflection on the TV screen showed another room in their imaginary apartment.
“There is something to see the strength of character and the beauty of the human spirit when you are stripped to the most vulnerable state,” she said. "I fell in love with it."
Easley said that it took some time for Cable to realize that she was more than just "the girl with whom he slept." When Easley first told Cable that he loved him, he stopped talking. According to Easley, he told his mother that he most regretted that he had never loved, but she proved that he was wrong. “I love you too,” he said with tears in his eyes.
In the autumn of 2005, a little more than a year after their meeting, it became clear that the end was near. Cable's friends and family gathered around his bed, and he asked Isley to climb with him. This time, instead of her hugging him, he hugged her in his arms when he died at the age of 31.
Thirteen years later, Easley continues to commemorate Cable through his work in the community of young adults with cancer, and is grateful for the memories he gave her.
“If you really want to know the value of life, you spend time with someone who fights for every bit of it,” said Easley. “I knew it would end. The part that I did not know is the unexpected beauty that occurred in this. ”