They were a young couple with futures still unwritten, not married but liking each other, like how most love stories start — a girl and a guy who met in cosmopolitan Sydney. The girl had wanted to move back to Melbourne, to where she grew up, but in the midst of this, the guy was hit out of the blue with a diagnosis of cancer that has shown early spread to the rest of his body. The disease was beyond cure, and his cancer will undoubtedly hold claim on his life, sooner or later. In their romanticism (and surely other reasons too) he decided to pack his life and move southwest to Melbourne together to spend the rest of his days, however long, with his girl.

Yet his disease progressed faster than anyone had feared for. Shortly after the move he deteriorated from being a capable young man — whom you wouldn’t know had cancer without him telling you — to a chair-bound, frail man incongruent for his age, chipped away by pain and multiple lines of cancer treatment. His only place to stay in Melbourne outside hospitals was his girlfriend’s place, and she in her young age took up caring for him day after day.

But then, what were her options and their implications? In wheeling him into hospital for specialist appointments after appointments, managing his host of medications several times a day, helping him with personal hygiene and even toileting at home, I wondered, with all respect, how she coped with this emotionally and rationally in her mind. What were the thoughts crossing her mind — how many were questions and how many were answers; how much were focused on the present and how much spilled into the future — when inevitably the guy would no longer be around, and how much ventured with feelings even beyond that? Or what went through the guy’s mind, for that matter? I cannot even imagine. Truly too, I don’t think anyone other than the couple knows.

There are (too) many fictional love stories where the girl or guy develops cancer in a bitter(-sweet) plot device, but this is a story from real life.

The guy passed away a few weeks ago.

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