Lesley Lane – GwdToday News Reporter
• Mon, Feb 14, 2011
He was born in small-town Greenwood before the old train depot was demolished and the big box stores moved in. He grew up an avid golfer and outdoorsman, with dreams of one day making it big in the world of finance.
Their quaint second-story apartment smells of newly sprayed air freshener and a hint of women’s perfume. A sign on the front door spells out their last name and hung just below the mantel in the cozy living room, is a placard that says .Home Sweet Home.
They met through mutual friends; she went to high school with his older sister. They knew of each other long before they fell in love. Just one week after he graduated from college they were married. Nearly six months later his cancer was back.
Eric, 29 and his 33-year-old wife Cheyanne Petrus, agree that love is a difficult word to define but if any two people embody the patience, devotion, commitment, and adoration that it takes to love, it would be them.
When Eric and Cheyenne met six years ago Eric was in remission from Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He found out about his cancer in 2001 after a car accident that left him with a bruised kidney. Following the wreck x-rays uncovered what was a mass in Eric’s chest that would eventually spread to his neck and under his arms. Eric’s cancer treatment began right away and Eric’s body began to heal. The weekend he found out he was in remission Eric fell in love.
Cheyanne says when she met Eric she knew the battle he had endured but Eric says that did not make it any easier to talk with Cheyenne about his cancer when their relationship became more serious.
Talking to her about it was the hardest part, Eric said. I was worried that she wouldn’t want to take up the challenge and she would be scared of what she was possibly getting herself into.
But Cheyanne said she loved Eric and there was never a doubt in her mind that she wanted to be with him, in sickness or in health.
I always had it in the back of my mind that his cancer may come back but I didn’t really think it would be as quick as it was, she said.
Just six months after the couple took their wedding vows Eric got word that his cancer was back, and this time it was back with a vengeance.
It was devastating. They told me my husband only had a few months to live, Cheyanne said. To go through life and you want to get married, have babies, have a family and grow old together – but I’ve always had a very strong relationship with God. Both Eric and I have big faith and we just kind of put it in His hands.
Eric said Cheyenne didn’t miss a beat after they found out his cancer had returned.
�She just went full steam ahead. She figured out what she needed to do to help me and she never complained,� Eric said.
Eric has proven to be a fighter while battling cancer and various other infections for nearly 10 years and has been a source of encouragement for many in the Greenwood community who know him, but he says Cheyenne, his wife, is his inspiration. He says that through his faith in God he believes Cheyanne was sent to him for a reason � primarily her strength, as she has fought battles all her own.
It takes a strong person and she’s strong, he said. She went through a stroke where she had to learn how to work her right arm again. She learned to write with the left hand, he said. I had to learn to walk again. I think we are here because of each other.
Today, Eric has been in remission for 18 months but his body is still very weak and his immune system is nearly non-existent. Bound to an antibiotic IV pump 24 hours a day and forbidden to leave home for fear that common illnesses will set him back even further in his recovery, Eric and Cheyanne spend the majority of their time together, inside their small apartment. None the less, Eric’s sense of humor is still very much intact.
We get on each others nerves sometimes, he said. It was probably a good thing in April when they put me in a comma because she got a break.
But Cheyanne says every day that she gets to spend with her husband is a blessing and something she tries to never take for granted.
Every day is a gift. He was so sick in April and I thought, We won’t be together for Christmas or we are not going to make it to our three year anniversary. I won’t see him turn 30. It’s a gift when you get past those markers, Cheyanne said. We are truly blessed. Even as sick as he has been, we are truly blessed.
Eric and Cheyanne say that one day they want to start a family; though they will have to adopt. Eric says he wants to finally have a chance to begin his career. With a bachelor’s degree in business, he hopes to work in the banking industry. He also wants to get back out on the golf course, something he says he misses dearly, but more than anything he says he wants to help others.
�There’s always something you can do to help somebody else or to open someone�s eyes to something. When I get a chance and I’m able to get out more I want to work with the American Cancer Society. If I can just talk to one person and ease them before going into treatment or give a testimony, anything I can do I will do it.
The trials that Eric and Cheyanne have been faced with are no match for their constant love for one another, they both agree. While they know their lives will remain forever changed Cheyanne says it’s something she is willing to accept in order to continue her life with Eric.
We’ve come to realize that we don’t have the life that we used to have. Our life, it’s sickness it’s cancer, it’s chemo. That’s our life now and we have to make a new normal. Our normal is gone and will never be like it was. We just have to move on and learn from that and hopefully our normal will be the best normal that we can make it, she said.
For today the two say they will continue to take their obstacles one day at a time and say they hope to share the stories of their hurdles along with their unwavering love with their children and grand children. The advice they would give their children is that compromise and respect can conquer all in love and that their faith in God has given them the strength to endure it all.
I hope we can sit on the porch when we’re 70-years-old and look back at this and it will show us how strong we were as individuals and how strong we were as a couple, Cheyenne said.
As for giving up, both say the thought has crossed their minds, after all they are human. But Eric and Cheyenne, nearly finishing each others sentences, agree that their love – in this moment and in every moment they will face in the future, good or bad – is right.
You just know it’s right. Everything about it is right. Through sickness, through cancer, through everything we just know its right, said Cheyenne.