“You have cancer"; three words that make your heart stop.
To tell our love story I need to go back to 1994 when Ruben and I first started dating.
We were in our early 20s and planned for a beautiful future together. What we couldn’t have known was that Ruben would be diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease shortly after we began dating. Ruben’s doctors informed him that one day he might need to be placed on dialysis or need a kidney transplant. We were devastated but we went on with our lives and got married October 10 th of 1998. Eight years after his diagnosis Ruben’s doctors informed him that he was getting close to being placed on dialysis and we should start looking for possible kidney donors.
As Ruben was being tested, to see if he was a good candidate for a transplant, the
search was on for a kidney donor. Ruben’s brother was tested because the possibility of
a good match is usually greater with siblings. Unfortunately, his brother was eliminated
as a donor candidate halfway through the process.
An unexpected but perfect match was what I was referred to. I went through all the
necessary physical and emotional pre-transplant screenings. Once I was cleared and
approved as a donor the date was set. December of 2003 I gave Ruben the gift of life
by donating my kidney to him.
After the kidney transplant we were elated to discover our new normal. We did face
some challenges with Ruben's health but through it all we seem to find that in some
ways our new normal was more rewarding and gratifying. We felt better equipped to handle anything life brought our way. Until Labor Day weekend 2019 when we heard those three words, “You have Cancer”.
Our whole world came to a complete stop. We were devastated, in shock, and fearful of
the unknown. I asked God, “Why my Ruben? Had he not already been through
enough?” I felt helpless but not hopeless because Ruben made me promise to never
give up hope. When the doctors informed me that he may not survive my Ruben asked
me to look into his eyes and he said, “Laura I need to see that you have not given up
hope that I will get better”.
We had our whole lives ahead of us but sadly on January 14, 2020 my Ruben took his
When we took our vows we truly meant “to have and to hold from this day forward, for
better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish,
until death do us part.” I choose you Ruben and I would choose you over and over again. Without pause,
without doubt, in a heartbeat I would always choose you. You will forever be my always
until my last breath.
I thank God for bringing us together and for allowing us to experience the most amazing
love. A love that was so deep that it makes this loss hurt so much.
I miss Ruben Noriega every day and I talk about him all the time. I often think back to
the person I was before Ruben passed away. She and I have very little in common
anymore. I think of the hurdles she had to jump, the mountains she climbed, and the
cliffs she fell over. She’s been knocked down, and risen many times; and at least a
dozen in her lifetime. I can see her in my memory so clearly, but I can’t feel her
anymore. She lived a different life than I do; with, different dreams, and a radically
different daily life.
I wish I could tell anyone who is grieving that there is a formula to get through grief but
there is literally no way around grief, you just have to let it take you under, drown you,
and then you have to let it change you. It’s hard and exhausting, but worth the work (I
Although life doesn't last forever, love is eternal. Cancer has not separated my heart
from yours my Ruben. I will honor you all the days of my life. Cancer you will never win
because true love will always prevail.