My dearest Lucas,
I've always been sure fate brought us together.
We had mutual friends and knew of each other, but I'd never actually met you until we were 16, when you walked into the Greek restaurant where I worked.
We recognised each other from friends' photos.
You were surrounded by your family, so I just blushed and flashed you a shy smile.
He's so cute, I thought as I watched you chatting happily with your parents and brothers.
I was sad we didn't get to talk but a few hours later my phone buzzed.
You're even prettier in person, you wrote.
We kept texting.
You were kind, caring and close with your family. I couldn't help falling for you.
I knew through our mutual friends that you'd battled cancer a year earlier and were in remission.
But we didn't talk about that. I thought it was in the past.
A few weeks later, I turned 17 and you came over to my house.
We stayed up all night in my bedroom, whispering.
We kissed and I felt so close to you, like no-one else existed.
We were inseparable from then on.
After school, I'd pick you up and drive to the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
We'd sit on the grass and talk for hours.
One night, you mentioned your cancer. You explained you'd had malignant peripheral nerve sheath tumour – an aggressive type of soft tissue sarcoma that'd grown in your leg.
You'd already been diagnosed and beaten it three times.
"It's likely to come back again," you said softly.
I froze, shocked.
"For sure?" I asked. You nodded sadly.
"I have a feeling and when I have a feeling, I'm always right," you explained.
It was like you'd already accepted it. But I couldn't acknowledge the possibility. You already meant too much to me.
"We'll pray it doesn't come back," I said.
Our relationship grew stronger so I pushed my worries aside. To me, you were too full of life to be sick.
But two months later, you showed me a lump in your right leg, the size of a mozzie bite.
"That's the spot," you insisted.
I drove you to the doctors and they ran tests.
You looked so calm when you came out I thought it must have been a false alarm. But your smile faltered.
"Cancer again," you nodded.
Your voice didn't even shake, but I collapsed into tears.
"Hey," you soothed, wrapping your arms around me. "We'll just take it day by day."
But docs warned there was nothing they could do.
Chemo and radiation wouldn't work – the only option was to amputate your leg. But you refused.
"I'm sick of the hospital," you argued. "Now I have to live with one leg? I can't."
Instead, you flew to Germany to trial an immunotherapy treatment.
I was in my final year of high school and couldn't miss my trial exams so I stayed home.
But we called and messaged every day. One night we stayed up talking for 12 hours.
"I'm in love with you," you confessed.
"I love you, too," I told him. I was so happy I couldn't stop grinning.
Months later, docs confirmed the treatment hadn't worked.
You were in such a bad way when you flew home that you were taken straight from the airport to the hospital.
I rushed to your side.
"We either amputate now or you don't see tomorrow," the surgeon warned you.
"Are you still gonna love me if I have one leg?" you asked me, blinking back tears.
I smiled and whacked his arms gently.
"Of course," I insisted. "Please do this."
Next morning, after the surgery, you were happier than you'd been in months.
"I'm finally cancer-free," you beamed. "We can live our lives together now."
Your leg had been amputated at the hip but you were determined to stay active.
You were walking with crutches within a week. It was like a huge weight had been lifted off your shoulders.
We studied together every night under the Harbour Bridge and eventually graduated. I'd never cheered louder when you received your certificate.
I even moved in with you and your mum, Hana.
One day, I asked what you wanted to do to celebrate your cancer-free anniversary.
"Get down on one knee and propose," you answered.
You were the love of my life. We often talked about getting married and the three children we'd raise together. I couldn't wait to start a little family.
Then, eight months after the amputation, you suffered chest pain. Docs found tumours on your spine, ribs, lymph nodes, left thigh, arms and hip bones.
You pulled me close as I sobbed into your chest.
"We'll get through this," you soothed.
I wanted to believe you, but this was different. Docs were helpless and you were given six months to live.
I was a mess, but you took the news bravely.
"As soon as I turn 18, we're getting married," you vowed. "I just want to be your husband, no matter what."
Four weeks later, your breathing became ragged – like every breath was a struggle.
I was too scared to let go of your hand.
"It's okay to be upset," you whispered when you saw me crying. "But don't put your life on hold because of me. I want you to do everything I dreamt of doing, like travelling to Europe for our second anniversary."
As the days went by, your condition worsened, but I was always by your side.
One night, you woke up and told me you loved me.
"I love you," I sobbed.
I held your hand as we fell asleep side by side.
When I woke an hour later, I stared at you, waiting for you to look at me with your gorgeous brown eyes.But you were gone. Your 18th birthday was just two weeks away. It felt like my heart had fallen out of my chest.
But you were so peaceful I couldn't be sad. You were finally free from pain.
I held you for the next nine hours, before they took your body away.
A thousand people attended your funeral a week later. You'd touched so many people in your short life.
Now, two months later, I'm still in shock. I don't want to live the rest of my life without you, but I'm trying to honour the promise I made to you.
My family and I are travelling to Italy on what would've been our second anniversary.
It'll be bittersweet without you, but I know you're living through me, because you're always in my heart.
I want to share your story so everyone can be inspired by your bravery. Life is short, but you never took it for granted.