I Married a Dying Man

Julie Ryan Evans

loveWould you start a romantic relationship with someone you knew was battling a deadly form of cancer? Would you marry him? A recent story in the Chicago Tribune tells a beautiful love story of a woman who did both, and is now living with just memories of the man she once loved.

Bahar Mallah knew from the night she met Nick Schmidt in a Chicago bar that he had cancer. He'd been told he had six months to live and made no attempt to hide the disease from her. She recounted his pickup line for the paper: "I have cancer, but I'll buy you a drink?"

They dated for two years, and married on October 11, 2010. Then, just 51 days later, cancer took his life.

She said he initially hesitated to propose because he didn't want to leave her a widow, but eventually he did ... on both counts. She has no regrets.

"He loved me," she said. "Why would I reject that? It doesn't make any sense. Even now that he's gone. Even now that I'm in so much pain. Why would you reject that?"

You have to wonder just how much their love extended his life beyond the initial six months he was given to live. You also have to wonder if this is an incredible example of just how powerful love can be.

I don't know what I would do. I can't imagine setting myself up for such heartbreak. Perhaps I would have refused that first drink out of fear, or perhaps I would have gotten swept away by love and followed my heart unhindered. While none of us who hasn't been in the situation knows what we'd do, I'd like to think I'd choose the latter, but I don't know if I could.

Too often I think we miss out on great things because we're afraid of the potential pain. But the truth is that we so often have no choice anyway when it comes to love and cancer and death. I love this story because it's such an important reminder that try as we may to plan our lives and schedule and prepare for every possible scenario, perhaps more often we should follow our hearts and enjoy life while it's ours to enjoy.

Would you start a romantic relationship with someone you knew was dying?

Image via *_abhi_*/Flickr

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