By Teri Schrul

I feel lucky that I can spend Valentine’s Day with my hero. Not many people can say that.

My husband Bill was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in June 2012. It came as a complete shock when we got the news. Five and a half years later, I realize just how much that day changed our lives and, dare I say it, in some ways for the better.

We don’t take a day for granted and try our best not to sweat the small stuff. Instead, we focus on what’s really important to us, like spending time with friends and family. In the past, we often talked about trips we wanted to take or concerts we wanted to go to, but always found an excuse to put them off. Now, if we think it, we do it!

Not only did that day remind us just how precious life is, but, after 31 years of marriage, it brought us closer together. We approached this journey as a team and that has never changed. I will always be by his side to support him as he is always by my side supporting me.

Bill’s positive outlook and upbeat attitude is remarkable and inspires me daily. It has not been an easy road, as anyone who has faced this disease knows, but Bill has handled it with grace, dignity and a smile on his face. He is my hero!

I can truly say this experience has changed me for the better. I am a stronger, more patient person. When faced with a difficult situation you can either fight or give up. I choose to fight. Bill’s life is too important and I am committed to do all that can to help him.

Since Bill’s diagnosis, we have received generous help from our local community, as well as the extended lung cancer community. Last September, it was our turn to pay it forward and help others touched by the disease.

Together, with other survivors and caregivers, we attended the National Advocacy Summit in Washington, DC. Knowing that there are people out there working tirelessly to raise awareness and advance research into finding a cure brings us tremendous hope. It felt good to know that our efforts are helping bring about change and make a positive difference in the world!