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Undying Love: Marriage After a Cancer Diagnosis

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Published on October 13, 2016

Is love possible after a lung cancer diagnosis? Allison "Alli" Doan and her husband, Keith, managed to find each other, get married, and stay strong for each other throughout Alli's diagnosis and treatments. Although their dream wedding in the Virgin Islands had to be changed to an earlier date to accommodate Alli's condition and treatment, Alli and Keith remain committed to each other as well as to Alli's continued health. Listen as Keith and Alli share their tips and insights into dealing with a lung cancer diagnosis.

Transcript | Undying Love: Marriage After a Cancer Diagnosis

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

Keith:   

I was blessed to meet Allison on December 24, 2013. It was basically a stragglers lunch put on by a great friend of ours. And this beautiful strong ultimately resilient woman was right across from me at the table of about 30 people.

And I didn't flirt with her that day, but I flirted with her in the next week or so over Facebook. We had some great dialogue leading up to a whirlwind January and February of 2014, where we went to a lot of hockey games, a lot of dinners, and it was just absolutely a whirlwind first six months. And I was blessed to have found the strength to propose to Alli on June 7, 2014 at the final George Strait concert at AT&T Stadium.

And she said yes, so we got on with planning the wedding that we were so looking forward to, a destination wedding in the Virgin Islands, St. Johns, utilizing a timeshare that we have. And that’s how we met. It was a wonderful first six months, nine months, and it's been a wonderful two-and-a-half years.

Alli:        

Keith and I were on a trip to Vegas in November of 2014, and I noticed a protruding lymph node in my neck. I didn't give it a whole lot of thought. But when I came back, I was encouraged to go to the doctor by mutual friends and by Keith. I went to my primary doctor, and she ordered a sonogram and some follow-up CTs. And those test results came back revealing some nodules in my lungs and in my thyroid. She referred me to an oncologist at that point, who suspected that I had medullary thyroid cancer, which is very rare. I wanted a second opinion, so I decided to utilize some contacts and get down to MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. 

And we got a second opinion there, which accurately diagnosed me with stage IV neuroendocrine lung cancer. My mother died of lung cancer, but she had a different type. So I knew what that diagnosis meant, and it was pretty scary.

 

 

I felt that I wanted to very much to move the wedding date up with her blessing. And from June of 2015, we moved it up to Valentine’s Day of 2015. So we had to put together a pretty quick wedding over about six weeks. We were blessed with so many great friends, and family and colleagues of Allison. We were just overwhelmed with the love and support.

After the wedding, at MD Anderson they did some genomic testing on me, which revealed I had a RET mutation to my tumor type. We decided after much prayer and thought to bring my care back to Dallas. And my doctor here recommended standard chemotherapy.

I did two rounds of that, and when that did not work, my doctor in Dallas decided to put me on a new regimen. And within weeks, I started to feel better. I was able to get off all of my pain medicine, and my tumors have been in regression. And within weeks, I noticed that my neck tumor had shrunk, and I just felt so much better. 

Keith and I have a very large and growing support system. And when I first got diagnosed, my kids were in shock and very afraid. And over time, they began to feel more relief, because they got more educated on my disease as well as talking to friends, whose parents have been through cancer.

Keith:   

My advice to other care partners throughout the whole journey is just not to be a bystander in the whole thing, to accept what you cannot control and to look at all the blessing that we do have.And the things that no one knows yet, or few people know, I mean, the woman had brain radiation four days before our wedding, and she was still absolutely beautiful.

The other advice I would give to other care partners is to have the strength of Zeus and the patience of Job and the faith in God

Alli:        

My advice to other lung cancer patients would really be try to connect with some other people that are facing your disease. I've met so many people in the process of this journey that have inspired me. I get people telling me that I inspire them, but they really inspire me with their stories.

So I would say also getting very educated about your disease. Sometimes you can freak yourself out on the Internet if you read too much, but you have to know the right websites to go to, and Patient Power was one that really helped me, as well as LUNGevity Foundation, dealing with lung cancer.

And so I feel very hopeful that there's so much research and education out there these days that we can possibly turn this into a chronic illness. I feel very hopeful about that.

Please remember the opinions expressed on Patient Power are not necessarily the views of our sponsors, contributors, partners or Patient Power. Our discussions are not a substitute for seeking medical advice or care from your own doctor. That’s how you’ll get care that’s most appropriate for you. 

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