“Every day I thank God for these second chances!”
Just as Tamara Bruzzo D’onofrio was reunited with “the one that got away,” she learned she had cancer. “I’d understand if you didn’t stick around,” she told Lucas. Yet by some miracle, the couple would get their happily-ever-after . . .
Sliding into her car, Tamara Bruzzo felt another coughing attack coming on. For days, the 21-year-old had had a lingering cough that left her as exhausted as if she’d just run a marathon and a fever that seemed to come and go. Still, she’d gone for a manicure—she and Lucas had weekend plans!
Tamara and Lucas D’onofrio met when she was a sophomore and he a senior at their Boca Raton, Florida, high school. Soon they were a couple, going to the movies, holding hands at pep rallies, playing games at the church carnival and talking late into the night.
Even when they went their separate ways after three years of dating, Tamara couldn’t stop thinking about Lucas. She tried seeing someone else, but . . . there was no spark. Nobody made her laugh like Lucas did. Nobody made her feel beautiful like Lucas did.
Then one day, a year after they’d broken up, Tamara got a text—from Lucas!
Do you want to hang out? he asked.
That evening, they just sat in the car and talked for hours again— and cried, too.
“I’ve missed you so much,” Tamara blurted.
“I never should have let you go,” Lucas admitted. And soon, they were a couple again.
Since they had gotten back together, Tamara had never been happier. But now, with a stabbing pain in her chest, she found herself fumbling for her cellphone.
“I’m going to the hospital,” she told her mom.
Terrifi ed it was something with her heart—her dad had suffered a heart attack at age 26!— Tamara headed straight to the ER. After a series of tests, the doctor appeared, his face ashen. “We found a large mass in your chest. It appears to be B-cell nonHodgkin lymphoma, cancer of the lymph nodes,” he determined. Even as her mom burst into tears, Tamara told herself: I’m not going to cry. Still, her hands trembled as she texted Lucas at work. Doctor says it’s lymphoma. What’s that? Lucas replied. Cancer, she admitted. I’m on my way. Oncologists explained that Tamara would require aggressive chemotherapy—five days in the hospital for each treatment—to shrink her tumor. “I’m going to be honest: It’s going to be a nightmare for four months,” one warned bluntly. So, soon after, Tamara took Lucas’s hand. “Listen. You’re only 24. You don’t have to stay with me. Go live your life. I’d totally understand.” But Lucas shook his head. “You’re crazy if you think I’m leaving again. I just got you back! Besides—you’re going to beat this!” he said, kissing Tamara.
As Tamara was checked into the hospital for chemo, Lucas spent as much time as possible with her. When her bones ached from the treatments, Lucas would gently massage her arms and legs to help relieve the pain. And after she took a shower one night and her long brown hair fell out, Lucas came back to visit the next day with his own head shaved.
“Thank you for doing this for me!” Tamara laughed, then cried at his sweetness.
“Look at you! You’re beautiful even now. And I told you: I’m in this for the long haul,” Lucas promised.
The evening of her final chemotherapy treatment, Tamara’s sister coaxed her out into the hall for a minute, helping her tug her chemo pole. When they went back inside, Tamara found her room filled with balloons, framed pictures of her and Lucas and hundreds of tiny candles lining a path strewn with rose petals! And there, beside her hospital bed, stood Lucas, holding an enormous bouquet of roses.
“You are the strongest person I know. I don’t know what I would do without you in my life, and I can’t believe how lucky I am that we are back together.” Then, falling to one knee, Lucas proposed.
“I love you, Tamara. Will you marry me?”
“Yes!” Tamara cried.
The power of love
Soon after, they had even more to celebrate: Tamara was pronounced cancer-free!
Over the next months, as she went to follow-up appointments and for blood work, Tamara and Lucas planned their wedding. On an autumn day, as they exchanged their vows—in good times and bad; in sickness and health—they smiled knowing they’d already lived them. And that evening, as they danced to Ed Sheeran’s “Thinking Out Loud” . . . People fall in love in mysterious ways/ Well, me—i fall in love with you every single day . . . Tamara felt like the luckiest woman in the world.
Today, the newlyweds are enjoying their new life, are running a business together and Tamara is healthier than ever.
“I know I am blessed to have this second chance with Lucas and at life, and I know we are forever. Yes, anything can happen. But Lucas and I are proof that with love, you can get through anything!”