They told us a story of great mutual support and he proposed at a spot overlooking the New York City skyline. Now Bride- & Groom-to-be Sarah Montemarano & Jonathan Viaud will honeymoon at Coco Reef Resort in Tobago. (For our next contest, see www.manhattanbride.com/honeymoons/.)
First Meeting: He was a patient in the hospital where she worked.
The Proposal: Overlooking the NYC skyline.
Backgrounds: She is a Registered Nurse. He is a Senior Conversion Analyst.
“At the age of 22, I had finally passed the road marker that is ‘college graduation.’ Never did I believe that a persistent dry cough would bring my world to a screeching halt, but when that cough turned into a Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis, the images of my future began to disintegrate.
"Over the next year and a half, my fight with cancer took many dramatic changes. At one point, it appeared that my disease was forced into remission, only to return a few months later. My doctors told me a stem cell transplant was necessary. Just as I was starting to think cancer would end my life, I was soon to discover that it was only just beginning.”
Leading up to the transplant, he endured rounds of chemotherapy, which lowered his immune system. “I was excited when my 24th birthday drew near. The transplant was only a few weeks away and I was seeking a positive distraction, but to my dismay, the ‘birthday present’ I got was a high fever that forced me to be hospitalized. After spending the night in the emergency room, I was transported to the hospital’s oncology floor.”
Due to his compromised immune system, the nurses assigned to his room had to wear masks. But still he noticed Sarah. “She was very thorough and professional. I did my best not to be a burden, but whenever I was in need, she was always quick to assist. She was incredibly kind and I greatly appreciated her efforts.” A few days later, Jonathan was discharged from the hospital. Sarah’s shift had not yet started, and he was unable to say good-bye.
After arriving home, Jonathan began to update friends and family of his progress.“I happened to come across Sarah’s Facebook page through mutual friends. We instantly connected and began to correspond with each other. Once the transplant was completed and my health was adequately restored, I asked her out to lunch.
“Our lunch date lasted for four hours! We agreed to meet again at a wine bar near her house, where we chatted away another four hours, discovering many shared values and interests. On our third date, we dined at a restaurant overlooking New York City’s skyline. After dinner, I asked Sarah if she would be my girlfriend. She happily agreed, and we shared our first kiss. Many cancer survivors struggle as they begin to resume a ‘normal’ life, but thanks to Sarah, my transition was seamless.
“A little over two years later, I was given wonderful news by the oncologist. My scans remained clear and the transplant had been a success. Cancer was in my rearview mirror!”
This helped propel his desire to take the next step with Sarah. “We had been living together for almost a year and I wanted to propose. During a lunch break, I wandered into a jewelry store in New York City. Using pictures Sarah had posted to her Pinterest account, I found a ring nearly identical to what she liked and bought it on the spot.”
That evening, he drove to Sarah’s parents’ house, asked for their blessing, and made a reservation at the restaurant where they shared their first kiss. “At the restaurant, we walked along the water. As Sarah looked across the river, I dropped to one knee and proposed.
“After dinner, we drove to my parents’ house, where both our families were waiting with a champagne toast. It was one of the best nights of our lives. Despite sacrificing two long years of my life to an arduous battle with cancer, I had found the person with whom I wanted to spend the rest of my life. We were both in that hospital at the same time for a reason; one for which we are forever grateful.”
“About a year ago, Sarah was facing an increasing workload and was also struggling to cope with the loss of some of her patients. As the stress increased, Sarah began to consider leaving nursing. After dinner one night, I reminded her that she chose to be an oncology nurse to make a difference and to help save lives.
“Although patients may pass away, a nurse’s impact remains, especially on the grieving family. It is Sarah’s day-to-day attentiveness, kindness, and care that give both patients and families a reprieve from the horrors of this deadly disease.
“She may not have known it then, but Sarah was continually giving people a different kind of reason to live and that is irreplaceable. After hearing me out and realizing the countless lives she had already changed, Sarah agreed, and took on her job with a new attitude and eye-opening perspective on the lives of her patients, as well as her own.
“It is truly a blessing to have gone through the hell that is cancer and come away not only with my life, but with an everlasting relationship with Sarah.”