How cancer led to love– Laura's story
This Valentine’s Day is Laura and Alex’s first as man and wife, after cancer brought them together. Here Laura tells her story of having cancer and how it led to love…
“I was first diagnosed with ovarian cancer in June 2016, when I was 27,” Laura says. “I had experienced really awful tummy cramps for three weeks, and felt very bloated. One day I had to the pull the car over because I was in so much pain. When I was diagnosed, I was shell shocked, but it was also quite comforting to know what was wrong as it meant I could do something about it.”
Laura underwent three months of chemotherapy followed by major surgery and another three months of chemotherapy. By November 2016 Laura had finished active treatment and went onto Avastin, a maintenance therapy, every three weeks.
“It was scary moving from weekly chemotherapy to just every three weeks because being at the hospital so regularly had felt like a safety blanket. That’s testament to everyone who works at The Royal Marsden because you feel safe in their care. All the staff are amazing, from the doctors and nurses to the lady who does the catering. And I could talk to my nurses about anything and everything.”
Over the following years, Laura recovered from treatment - coping with the early menopause that resulted from her treatment, while completing her Master’s degree and going back to work as a primary school teacher. She started fundraising for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity as she had such a positive experience of The Royal Marsden. Laura also wanted to raise awareness of the BRCA gene and breast and ovarian cancer symptoms, so started speaking at events and writing a blog. It was through her blog that she met Alex.
“Alex and I had known of each for ten years through mutual friends. He then messaged me after he saw my remission blog. We met up for a drink and then it all happened! Alex had non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his early 20s and when we started chatting about the cancer stuff I knew instantly how much of a connection we had. We were just totally meant to be.”
Four months before Laura and Alex were due to get married, Laura found a small ovarian relapse. “Although I’d always lived in fear of a recurrence it was still a shock, and I had surgery and six cycles of chemotherapy.
“Life threw us a curve ball but we picked ourselves up and kept going. The day was magical. It wasn’t affected at all, the day I became Laura Samuels was the happiest day of my life. With Alex by my side, I feel I can do anything. We are an unstoppable duo.”
“Alex is now eight years cancer-free. He is one of the people who understands my experience best and I’m so very grateful for that. Between us we’ve probably broken records for the number of surgeries, appointments and blood tests a married couple can have but I wouldn’t want to do it all with anyone else. Cancer is tough but we are tougher! This will be our first Valentine’s Day as husband and wife, but I feel like it’s Valentine’s Day every day being with Alex, because I have my best friend by my side every day.”