LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — When they took the vows in sickness and in health, a local couple never imagined their love would be tested so soon.
Shad and Shari Martin of Los Angeles have shared love and their lives for the past 15 years. They met working at an Arizona television station in 1999, married in 2008, and welcomed their daughter Alana in 2010.
A year and a half ago, Shad was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and he completed chemotherapy. By April, the Martins had every reason to believe their toughest days were behind them.
But that was until Shari made the frightening discovery of finding a lump in her breast. After a series of tests, her doctor told her it was invasive breast cancer.
The tumor was large so she started chemotherapy immediately to shrink it before surgery.
As Shari was getting that first round of chemotherapy, Shad was also at the hospital getting a CAT scan to follow-up on an irregular blood test.
Two days later, they learned that Shad’s original cancer had come back and re-grouped in his liver – a devastating turn.
“Shad said to me, ‘We always wanted to do everything 50-50, you know? We always wanted to do everything together,” Shari recalls.
When asked how the double diagnosis has changed the Martins relationship, Shad said: “Like, I think about, you know, your vows. You know, in sickness and in health. We’re certainly going through that right now.”
As Shad and Shari undergo treatment together, friends and family help care for Alana. On days they feel strong, which are still most days, the time they spend with her is priceless.
“As miserable as this diagnosis is, there is plenty of room for laughter,” Shari said. “Before he got his diagnosis, when I got mine, because he was coming off cancer, he said, ‘Well, we shouldn’t have gone camping at that nuclear dump site.’ ”
Doctors say there is reason for optimism as both are considered curable at this point.
Yet, still, Shari says: “You think about mortality. If I have a limited time, what do I want that time to be like? What would it look like if you and your husband were diagnosed with cancer and it was still a happy time?”
She adds, “You’ve accentuate the positive.”
“We go to bed at night and you can really feel the prayers. The good wishes,” Shad said. “You would be amazed at how much support is out there.”
Shari added: “It’s not that we’re saying this isn’t awful because it’s awful. But we can still have the beautiful things in life. It doesn’t get to take all the beauty away. It just doesn’t.”
The Martins say they expect to complete their treatments by the end of this year and are planning a celebratory end-of-cancer vacation for 2016.
The following story was produced by CBS2 Medical Producer Gerri Shaftel Constant.