Erin + Ben
Erin and Ben, the recipients of The Wedding Pink - 2013. Their dream wedding took place on May 5 at the Wine Country Inn, Palisade, Colorado.
How has your life been touched by breast cancer?
I was 27 years old when I suddenly noticed a large lump in my left breast . After doing extensive research on the internet , I convinced myself that it was nothing serious and t hat I would be fine. After all, I was only 27 -- it couldn't be something serious. Just to be safe, I went to t he doctor to get myself checked out . After going through the standard barrage of tests, I was diagnosed with DCIS with a microinvasive cancer component. After meeting with my oncologist, it was determined that I would undergo neoadjuvent chemotherapy, followed by surgery, possible radiation and Tamoxifen. My doctor wanted to do the chemotherapy first in order to try and shrink my lump -- which was estimated to be 9cm. It was at this point that I felt my life was turning into a Lifetime movie. I began six rounds of TAC chemo in October 2010. Over the next 3 months I went through all of t he classic symptoms and traumas of chemo from hair loss to depression. My lump was responsive to the chemo and shrunk to about 4 or 5 cm, however because it was still a significant size, I had a left mastectomy with implant reconstruction and a reduction on my right breast so that t hey would match. Fortunately, I did not need to undergo radiation since there was no lymph node involvement. Toward the beginning of my diagnosis, I told myself that I would not let cancer take something from me, but that I would take something from it. I’ve tried to live up to this promise over the last two years. This past spring I went to work for a local non-profit which provides healing and wellness resources for adults living with cancer. I’ve also spent much of my time getting involved with both local and national breast cancer organizations. I feel like my life has a purpose now and I’m going t o use it to help in the fight to end this terrible disease.
Tell us about yourselves.
It has been nearly two years since my cancer diagnosis. I am now 29 and Ben is 30. We live in an apartment in Alexandria, Virginia, Ben working as a Tax Accountant , while I work for a local non-profit. We have wonderful friends and family and like to spend our time enjoying the local sites and culture. We’ve even recently started taking ballroom dancing classes. If there is one thing t hat we learned from cancer, it’s how to live life. As the saying goes, “Plan for the future but live for today,” – and we believe that fully. All throughout the many ups and downs of the past two years, Ben has been my constant source of strength and support . When you are in your twenties, you never think that you are going to have to deal with a situation like the one we faced together. But having gone through it, we feel much stronger, not only as individuals, but also as a couple. I once asked Ben if he had ever considered walking away so that he wouldn’t have to deal with the drama and hardship associated with my cancer diagnosis. He told me that even when things were at their roughest , he could never bear the thought of leaving me alone and the thought of not being with me. It has always been moments like this that cement our relationship. And even though we have been together for over 7 years, these moments keep happening and I continue to feel more and more love for him every day. And even with all we have dealt with and all of the trials and tribulations we’ve been through I still know that Ben is there for me unconditionally. Just last week I lost my father to pancreatic cancer. Once again, Ben was my rock, my strength and my shoulder to cry on. He has been here for not only me, but my entire family, and he has once again shown me that he is the perfect man for me. I strive in my life to be his source of strength and inspiration. To show him t he same compassion and love that he has shown me over the years. We have dealt wit h more as a couple before the age of 30 than many couples deal wit h in twice as much time and because of t he battles we’ve faced we have had to put on hold many of the things that other couples our age get to do, such as buying a house, getting married and starting a family. We very much want to get back on a “normal” path and be able to have the opportunities to move our life together forward.
How did you meet?
Ben and I met during my senior year of college in 2005. He had recently graduated from another school but moved back to our hometown afterward. We met through a mutual friend and slowly developed our own friendship over the year. To be perfectly honest , I found him annoying when we first met . He knew how to push my buttons and drove me crazy (not in a good way), but once I started to spend time with him, I realized what a smart, wonderful and caring man he is. We celebrated our 7 year anniversary this past April and throughout our time together I have never felt more loved and adored than I have with Ben. He protects me yet empowers me. He embraces me yet challenges me. He guides me yet goes where I need him. We have both grown so much from our experiences and from being together. I don’t know how I would have gotten through the last few years without him.