By Erik Hale

When I was just 30 years old I was diagnosed with stage 3A adenocarcinoma, non-small cell lung cancer. After diagnosis I spent six weeks going through radiation and chemotherapy treatment to reduce the tumor size before going in for a lobectomy procedure where half of my left lung and 20 lymph nodes were removed.

The recovery process was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to endure and I remember those long days in the hospital with my wife Aloy by my side. I remember her holding my hand at 3:00 am when I was writhing in pain and questioning how much more I could endure. I remember her sleeping on a tiny, rickety cot at the foot of my hospital bed to make sure that she would be there for me if I needed anything. Most fondly, I remember her positivity in light of my bleak diagnosis. She wasn’t going to let me give up or feel sorry for myself and that attitude helped me to decide to be strong.

I’ll never forget that day back in 2013 when I came home and told my wife (who was my girlfriend at the time) the results of the biopsy and without hesitation her reply to me was, “We’re getting married.” If that doesn’t exemplify strength, dedication and love in the face of adversity then I don’t know what does.

Today, I’m over 5 years out from my diagnosis and surgery and while life tends to settle back down to normal most days I don’t think either of us can ever take the lives we have left to live for granted. In a way, as hard as those times were, cancer gave us the gift of life by making sure we knew how precious our moments together are. We

I truly don’t know where I would be today if Aloy hadn’t been with me during that time. The hardest times in life require the strongest support and words cannot justly describe how lucky I am to have had one of the strongest women I’ve ever known lift me up during a time where I was too weak to stand on my own.always try to celebrate life in small ways when we have the chance and for Valentine’s Day this year we’ll be going out of town for a special weekend getaway.