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Hope & Joy
Cancer patients never want to hear the words “stage-four lymphoma.” This means the cancer has spread to one of the organs such as the liver, or to the lymph nodes. But this is what Keith Saathoff was facing. He would have to undergo a bone marrow transplant to survive and he would have to do it alone.
Keith was going through a painful divorce after 19 years of marriage and two children. His bout with cancer left him feeling like, in his words, damaged goods. He felt no one would want to be with a single dad who had gone through such a tough battle. But as it turned out, the cancer also brought something good into his life.
After the transplant, Keith underwent a bone marrow biopsy, a painful procedure to say the least. His nurse was Cheryl Bressler.
“I could tell he was going through a difficult time and I asked him if he wanted me to hold his hand during the procedure,” Bressler said.
This act of kindness turned out to be more than just a nurse comforting a lonely patient. It was a life-changing event in both of their lives. Cheryl was also going through a divorce after 16 years of marriage. She also had two children.
“When the procedure was over, I hugged Cheryl and thanked her for being so kind,” Saathoff said. “Everything I thought about being damaged goods vanished and I knew this was the beginning of something special.”
“We began talking and realized that, besides the divorces, we had a lot in common,” Bressler said. “We both had come from big families; we shared the same values and ideals for our children and both loved dancing, music and water sports.”
A few days after the biopsy, Keith came in to get his results and Cheryl was once again his nurse. She met his father. He approved. She gave him tickets to see “The Wizard of Oz” at her son’s school with his kids, and the romance began. The two started dating, and in mid-January of this year, they took a trip to San Diego.
“We were taking a walk on the beach, and Keith got down on his knees and proposed at sunset,” said Bressler. “It was one of the happiest moments of my life. He is everything to me.”
“Cheryl gave me more joy during the most difficult time in my life than I had ever experienced when I was perfectly healthy,” Saathoff said. “She gave me hope, not only in the recovery process, but hope for the future of our family.”
Keith is in remission and is currently a practicing veterinarian in Tomball. The pair plans to get married this August.