As we stood on our verandah, I looked lovingly into my fiancé Graeme's eyes.
"Finally, our own home," I said, sighing.
Graeme and I had only been together for 18 months but since our first date, we'd dreamed of one day buying our own home.
Now we had done just that.
Nestled in 26 beautiful acres near Mareeba, an hour west of Cairns, the little shed we lived in needed plenty of work but we had big ideas.
"One day we'll have cattle here," Graeme said.
"I want a big vegie garden, too," I added.
Six weeks later, our plans ground to a halt.
In the early hours I woke with a start to Graeme groaning in pain.
I let out a scream, Graeme's face was contorted and he couldn't speak!
His brother, Wayne, who was visiting with his girlfriend Minna, rushed in.
"Call triple 0," he ordered.
At Cairns Base Hospital, doctors said Graeme had suffered a stroke.
"But he's 30," I said. "Only elderly people have strokes."
"Anyone can have a stroke," the doctor replied.
Graeme was paralysed down his entire right side – he had no movement in his hand, arm, leg or foot.
What was worse, he'd lost the ability to speak.
Doctors were baffled as to what had caused it.
"You're young, you're strong and I love you," I whispered in Graeme's ear. "You're going to get better… I promise."
Looking into his eyes, I could see he was crushed, yet he had a look of steely determination.
I took time off work to help care for Graeme as he went through three months of gruelling rehab.
Finally he started to improve, regaining his speech, though it was slow and slurred, and walking with the aid of a stick.
It was tough not seeing Graeme every day.
I worked 10 hours away from the hospital where he went for his rehab so I got a new job to be closer and we moved in with Graeme's parents, who lived nearby.
A year on, Graeme was getting stronger when I started to get pains in my pelvis.
"I'll go to the doctor, but I'm sure everything will be fine," I said, plastering on a smile.
Deep down though, I was worried and tests confirmed I had cervical cancer.
"First you have a stroke and now this," I cried as Graeme comforted me.
I was only 30 too, the same age as Graeme when he'd had the stroke.
"Remember what you said to me?" he soothed. "You're going to get better."
I had to go to hospital in Brisbane for radiation and chemotherapy, and stayed with family in the months that followed, while Graeme stayed in Cairns.
It was torture being apart but finally the happy day came when I got the all clear.
Sadly, my new bill of health was short-lived.
A few months later, I started to feel unwell again, suffering similar symptoms to before.
Doctors said the side effects of my treatment had damaged the walls of my cervix, and to be on the safe side I had to have a hysterectomy.
"We need something to look forward to," Graeme said. "Let's plan our wedding."
It was the lift I needed and we set a date for January 2016, just before I was due to have the hysterectomy.
The countdown was on for our simple country ceremony at our property.
When the big day was upon us, my eyes filled with tears.
As Graeme slurred his way through his vows, I was overcome with emotion, knowing he meant every word.
That day, surrounded by family and friends, we could pretend we were just like any other newlyweds.
It was simply perfect.
It was a new beginning and we couldn't wait to spend the rest of our lives together.
Only three weeks later, I came crashing back to Earth with a thud.
In Brisbane for the hysterectomy, tests showed my cancer was back.
"It's aggressive and it's spread to your lymph nodes," the doctor said.
"But you had the all clear," Graeme said, struggling to take it all in. "How can it be back?"
It was far worse than I had imagined.
The cancer was diagnosed as being terminal.
I had no idea how much time I had left, whether it was months or years, and I didn't want to know.
Still, I wasn't prepared to just give up.
"I'll do whatever it takes," I promised Graeme.
Over the next two years I had more chemo, and even travelled to Germany twice for heat and immunotherapy treatment.
It meant Graeme and I spent lengthy stints apart.
On the upside, he was doing well and got a job driving road trains.
We Skyped and called constantly.
Graeme was my rock, supporting me through every twist and turn but I was running out of options.
The cancer was advancing and then I developed a bowel obstruction.
Another stint in hospital meant I was away from him again.
It seemed most of our married life we'd been apart.
When I was well enough to go home a week later, once again, bad luck struck.
Six months after I was discharged from hospital, Graeme had another stroke.
"Why do bad things keep happening to us?" I wept, sitting by his bedside back in Cairns Base Hospital.
But Graeme had lost his ability to speak again and couldn't reply.
By now, we had spent half of our married life apart in different hospitals.
With my ongoing appointments in Brisbane, Graeme was transferred there for rehab.
Although we're together now, for how long nobody knows.
Graeme's speech is slowly improving since the second stroke but my cancer is spreading fast.
Immunotherapy treatment is no longer an option for me but I'm exploring alternative therapies and there's the possibility of more chemo.
I can't bear the thought of not seeing Graeme's handsome face, feeling his comforting cuddles or hearing his soothing words so I'll do all I can to make sure that day never comes.
We promised each other we'd get better and I refuse to give in.
After we went to print, Katy tragically passed away. Our thoughts are with Graeme and her family. If you'd like to help, please click here to donate.
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