When Andrea St. John and Kevin Broderick met in 2006, they were both teaching high school in Lake Placid, N.Y. Kevin was in recovery from Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of cancer. That didn't stop them from falling in love.
Broderick had been diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma in 2004. Ewing's typically occurs in the teenage years; it often strikes boys and is usually found in the bone.
Recently, St. John spoke with Broderick's brother, Tom, about the early days of their relationship.
Kevin Broderick taught U.S. history, St. John math.
"I think it took a little while for him to build up the courage to ask me to do something alone. We had a lot of seventh-grade-style dates," St. John told Tom Broderick. By then, she knew about his cancer.
But that didn't worry her, St. John said — not until he went back in for a checkup and took several scans to see if his recovery from cancer was still a success.
They were both at work when Broderick's doctor called with the news that the cancer had returned.
"I walked into the faculty room, and his eyes were red," St. John said. She was distracted by her work; she needed to make some copies. But then she turned to Broderick.
"Are your eyes OK?" she asked him.
"And then, as soon as the words were out of my mouth," St. John said, "I realized: Oh no."
"Yeah, I think you should get your jacket," Broderick said. "Maybe we'll go for a walk."
Broderick told St. John what the doctors had said.
"There's a spot in my thigh, and my ribs, and in my pelvis," St. John remembered him saying. "And he paused, and he said, 'The scans lit up like a Christmas tree.'"
One morning after that walk, St. John told Broderick that she had picked out what she would wear at his wake. But she wanted his opinion. So she put on the dress and stood on the bed, modeling it for him.
It was then that Broderick started to cry. But when St. John apologized, he stopped her.
"It's just that you look so beautiful," he said. "I'm so glad I got to see you in that dress."
When St. John asked him why he was so upset, Broderick said that when he had awoken that morning, he realized he felt more prepared to face what was coming. St. John asked him what that was like.
"Well," Broderick said, "I guess it's the same thing you felt when you put the dress on this morning."
Broderick's diagnosis didn't stop the couple from getting engaged this past May. A week later, Broderick died. He was 36.
Produced for Morning Edition by Katie Simon. The senior producer for StoryCorps is Michael Garofalo.