FARGO — When Shauna Erickson and Abdallah Abou Zahr first met online, it wasn't exactly wedding bells right away.
"I almost canceled the first date, because I was like, 'this guy is too nerdy and way too different than people I dated in the past,'" Shauna said. "But after the first date, there was this curiosity that had me agree to a second date."
Abdallah is an oncologist at Roger Maris Cancer Center, and Shauna is a child therapist at the Village Family Service Center.
"There was this magnetism, I could not put my finger on," Shauna said.
Despite the two being so different, their relationship just clicked.
"We we very yin-yang in balancing," she said.
"The initial attraction, I felt like I could open directly to her, and I am so glad she did not bail out on me after the first date," Abdallah said.
The two dated, got engaged and began thinking of starting a family.
"Since we got engaged I was on cloud 9," Shauna said. "I felt like 2021 was going to be the best year of my life, planning for pregnancy and had already made plans to get my IUD out, I had zero symptoms."
Then, shortly before her wedding shower, Shauna was diagnosed with breast cancer.
"So, there wasn't a dry eye in the place, people were caught so off guard," Shauna recalled. "People looked at me with these sad, sad eyes like, 'Is she going to be OK, will there even be a full wedding,' and to have it be such a bang of happiness and positivity was a real boost to enter into my treatment then."
Despite the news, and the tough road ahead, the couple got married.
"It forced me to face my own mortality I guess, and more because of the way I think," Abdallah said. "I am more of a pessimistic person than optimistic."
Shauna had chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and then, her new husband got more bad news. Abdallah was diagnosed with sarcoma. He is now in treatment.
"I have had many nights where I wonder what is going to happen," Shauna said.
Both continue to work during their cancer treatments. Abdallah will soon have surgery to remove the mass in his leg, once he finishes chemotherapy and radiation.
These two who had dreams of a family and fairy tale life suddenly faced with a ton of unknowns.
"There were periods of pity and anger that led me to reach out to professional supports and interventions to reground myself in feeling even flashes of hope again," Shauna said. "Finding hope in the things I can have certainty for, or that are still on the horizon, despite there being a different path of taking there."