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Real Life

REAL LIFE: "My hubby and I did everything to find a cure for breast cancer. Then, I was diagnosed"

''The road has been rocky, but we’re in it together.''

By Laura Masia

Jess Ward, 31, from Pakenham, Vic, shares her story;

My heart was pounding in my ears as I jogged alongside my boyfriend, Jake.
"Not long to go," he puffed. "Why don't you run ahead so you can watch me cross the finish line?"
Although I was tired, it was nothing like the exhaustion Jake was feeling, so I pushed ahead.
I wouldn't miss this moment for anything.
For the last 30 days, Jake had been running from the Gold Coast to his mum's house in Melbourne to 
raise money for breast cancer research.
He told me about his charity run on our first date, a year earlier.
"I lost both my aunt and cousin to breast cancer," he explained as we sat in an Italian restaurant.
He'd already done smaller marathons from Sydney to Melbourne but this time he wanted to up the ante in the hopes of raising more.
As I twirled spaghetti 
on my fork, and listened to Jake speak so passionately about helping others, I fell 
in love with him. We chatted all night, missing the movie we'd planned to see and only leaving when the staff started cleaning up for the night.
After a month of dating, Jake pulled me aside.
"Jess, I'm in love with you," he said softly.
"I love you, too," I said, jumping into his arms.
We soon moved 
in together. It was quick, but we were certain we'd found our soul mate.
Then, we planned the marathon, and decided 
to build 
a house together, too.
A year later, we headed to Queensland so Jake could begin.
But I couldn't stay by his side for the whole month due to work commitments.
"I'm so proud of you," I cried as we waved goodbye.
We spoke every night before I met up with him again three weeks later.
At the finish line, 
I was surrounded 
by hundreds of our family, friends and even news reporters there to capture Jake's big moment.
Minutes later, the crowd went wild as Jake appeared around the corner.
He crossed the line and wrapped me in a tight, sweaty hug before thanking everyone for their support.
Then he turned to me.
"Thank you for everything you've done," he said. "I've bought you a little present."
At the end of the marathon Jake had planned the best surprise! (Image: Supplied)
As Jake reached into his pocket, I panicked.
He's just done this huge run and I didn't even get him
 anything! I thought.
Suddenly, Jake got 
down on one knee and the cheering became so loud, I couldn't hear a thing he said.
I watched him mouth, "Will you marry me?"
"Yes, yes!" I screamed, as Jake put the ring on my finger.
Later, I found out he'd asked Dad for my hand and even took my mum ring shopping to make sure it was perfect.
Nine days after our engagement, we moved into our newly built home and adopted a puppy, Zeus.
We planned a beautiful marriage ceremony on Phillip Island, Vic, with the reception at a local resort.
But on the day, there was a torrential downpour and we had to relocate back to the resort at the last minute.
Standing with Jake in my damp dress, it wasn't the day I'd imagined, but I'd never been happier.
I was marrying the man of my dreams.
After two years of struggling to conceive, I fell pregnant. But tragically, just a month shy of my 30th birthday, I had a miscarriage.
"It'll happen," Jake assured me, pulling me into his chest. "We just need to wait for the right time."
A few weeks later, I was in the shower when I noticed 
a lump in my breast.
"It's probably hormonal tissue," my GP told me. "Nothing to worry about."
We both knew we were marrying our soul mate. (Image: Supplied)
But something didn't feel right, so I sought a second opinion.
This time, an ultrasound showed abnormal tissue in my breast so the doc ordered a biopsy.
A few days later, Jake and 
I went to get the results.
"I'm sorry," the doctor said, "you have breast cancer."
We were shocked. We'd been so certain I would be clear that we'd even planned a celebratory dinner.
Jake crumbled next to me, his head in his hands, while 
I went into survival mode trying to comprehend it all.
That night we held each other as we cried. With our dreams of having a family on hold, we decided to freeze my eggs.
Once we'd done that, I booked surgery to have the tumour removed.
It went well but a biopsy revealed the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes, so I needed six months of chemo and radiation.
With Jake during chemo. He was such an amazing support. (Image: Supplied)
Soon, my long blonde hair fell out and I struggled with my confidence.
But once I was bald, I felt like a new person.
Now, I've only got a few weeks left of chemo and my hair is growing back. I still have radiation and a year of treatment to go but with Jake by my side, I know it'll be fine.
I have the best husband, and can't wait until we can have kids. Until then, we're taking it a day at a time, just thankful for the love we have.

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