So what I learned at 40, a few weeks before my wedding, was that my fiancé would indeed be a good partner in sickness and in health. He dropped everything to be by my side, and when I emerged from the exam area to tell him I was okay, he cried. It was the first and only sign that he was as worried as I was. If he'd had tears and fears before that, he'd kept them to himself.

I also got a tiny taste of what so many of my friends with cancer have gone through and continue to go through every time they see a doctor, and for all the anxious hours and years in between. I feel ridiculous telling this story in light of the real drama my friends and their partners and families have bravely faced. But I think it made me a better person, to understand how precious health is, and how everything can change in an instant, and how, even though the people who love you can't stop difficult things from happening, they will be there when you need them, every scary step of the way.

So maybe cancer doesn't mean that you're totally and irreversibly on your own. Maybe it actually clarifies, like an X-ray, what's inside of you, and who is in this with you.

Cindy Chupack is the author of The Between Boyfriends Book (St. Martin's Griffin).


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