I met the love of my life in high school. Yvonne and I fell in love and got married after graduating from college in Southern California. In June 2006, we celebrated our 32nd wedding anniversary. Our son, Tyler, was 25.
Our lives were very good, until the month after our anniversary, and one week before Tyler married the love of his life.
That’s when Tyler was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. No one could have imagined that this healthy, athletic and brilliant young man would be the one diagnosed with a life-threatening disease.
Tyler was the light of our lives. For many families, it is not always easy to express the love they have for one another, but it wasn’t that way for ours. We’ve always been able to express our love to each other. Foreseeing an uncertain journey in the treatment of pancreatic cancer, Yvonne and I pledged to be as supportive and loving as possible to each other as well as Tyler and his new wife, Eva, which is really the true love story here.
It’s no secret that a traumatic family situation, particularly when it involves the illness or death of a child, can easily drive a wedge in even the best of marriages. But Yvonne and I promised each other to use our situation as a way to strengthen our marriage and love even deeper. We would not let the journey that was ahead of us change that commitment.
Did that mean we would always agree 100 percent? No, but it meant a loving respect and always asking what would be best for Tyler and Eva.
During the more than five years of sometimes rocky treatment for Tyler, our love continued to grow. And now, four years after Tyler’s passing, we are still deeply in love. I love Yvonne for who she is, I love Yvonne for the care she provided to our son, I love Yvonne for embracing Eva as Tyler’s true love. Even now, we are still very connected to Eva, who remarried and will have likely delivered our (non-biological) grandchild by the time you read this.
We continue to advocate for pancreatic cancer as a way to express our love for Tyler, to keep his abiding hope alive, and to continue to Wage Hope in the fight for progress in treating this heartbreaking disease.
This June, we will return to Washington, D.C., for National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day. It’s always near or on our wedding anniversary. Quite apropos, right?
It will be our seventh visit to Capitol Hill to honor Tyler and share his story in hopes of inspiring our elected officials to push harder to make pancreatic cancer research a national priority.
We do this for love…on so many levels.
And we are here for the long run: In our love for each other and Tyler. In our commitment to support the extraordinary and relentless fighting spirit of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and to change the future of pancreatic cancer, so other families won’t know the pain Tyler endured and the anguish we experienced.
Please join Yvonne and me for National Pancreatic Cancer Advocacy Day this June. Registration is now open, and you can and should sign up today. We are all stronger together. We are making a difference.
Dennis Noesen, M.D.