Many new relationships face challenges, but one young Australian couple were given a devastating blow just months after they began dating.
Yolanda Blamires, 22, met her husband Nathan, also 22, in 2013 during her first week at university. Within weeks the pair became best friends.
‘I felt so comfortable around him,’ Yolanda told that’s life! ‘Our favourite thing was to just grab a pizza and watch Breaking Bad at my share house. As time passed though, my feelings for him grew.’
Then, in May 2015, Yolanda and Nathan admitted they had fallen for each other.
But six months into their relationship, Yolanda started feeling unwell and showing signs of jaundice.
Concerned, she visited her GP who organised a liver biopsy.
‘A week later Mum and I were listening to my biopsy results. We sat in shock as the specialist told us I had a 7cm tumour in my liver,’ Yolanda explained.
Despite her own fears, she immediately worried about Nathan and whether her illness would be too much for him to take on.
She even told him he didn’t have to stay with her. ‘He didn’t sign up for this,’ she said.
But Nathan had other ideas. ‘He told me he wasn’t going anywhere,’ she said. ‘I realised he was one in a million.’
Worse news was to follow and further tests showed the cancer was terminal. Yolanda was given just months to live.
Yolanda said her partner’s refusal to leave her to face her illness alone had meant the world. ‘With Nathan’s strength and commitment I came to term with the diagnosis,’ she said.
Just one month later, Nathan took Yolanda on a bush walk to a beautiful waterfall.
‘Then Nathan got down on one knee,’ Yolanda explained. “Will you marry me?” he asked, holding out a gold diamond ring.’
Yolanda was over the moon, and the pair busily began planning their wedding for the following January.
‘Despite our rush, it was the perfect day,’ Yolanda said. ‘We exchanged vows in front of our loves ones under a beautiful oak tree. Twirling on the dance floor with Nathan was one of the happiest moments of my life.’
Eighteen months on, Yolanda credits Nathan as the reason she has defied her initially prognosis.
A course of chemotherapy has shrunk the tumour by half, but Yolanda believes she has around a year left to live.
Yolanda said she was enormously grateful for the sacrifices Nathan had made to his career to allow him to care for her and for the pair to travel together.
She also hopes that, when the time comes, Nathan will find happiness again.
‘I want him to meet someone,’ she said. ‘He says he can’t picture himself with anyone else, but I want another girl to be as happy as he’s made me.
‘For now, we’re making the most of every day. Our love might burn briefly, but it burns bright.’
Yolanda and Nathan's full story, along with other Australian real-life stories, is featured in issue 25 of that's life! on sale now.