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How we met: ‘I couldn’t even hug him, we needed to be so cautious’ | Relationships

When the UK went into lockdown in March 2020, Duncan knew he needed to defend himself. Two weeks earlier than the remainder of the nation was requested to remain at house, he obtained a name from his workforce of nurses recommending that he protect. “I’d completed treatment for lymphoma a year earlier and it left me with a compromised immune system,” he says. “I was living with my parents in Cumbria, so we stayed in together.” By October, he had began a college course on-line and was venturing out for lengthy walks in his spare time, however nonetheless being cautious. “I love bird-watching. I took lots of pictures and sometimes sent them to friends,” he says. One of his buddies was sharing a pupil flat in Lancaster with a lady named Molly. “She suggested I send the pictures to Molly as she might like them. I jokingly asked if she was single and discovered she was.”

Around every week later, Duncan and Molly linked on Instagram. “I’d been told about him by my flatmate. I think she was secretly trying to set us up,” says Molly. They bonded over a shared love of David Attenborough documentaries and nature. Per week later, they arrange a brief telephone name and immediately hit it off. “I found him really interesting and easy to talk to,” she says. Meeting up was tough as they lived thus far aside, and there was no Covid testing obtainable on the time.

Eventually, in November, they have been capable of go for a socially distanced stroll. “We couldn’t hold hands or have any intimacy, which was hard, but I knew I wanted to be with her,” says Duncan. “I asked her to be my girlfriend within the first 100 metres of our walk.” Molly was nervous however “really happy … It was hard because I couldn’t even hug him, we had to be so careful.”

They continued their long-distance relationship on-line. “He would put on a suit and I’d wear a nice dress and we’d sit in our living rooms having dinner,” says Molly, laughing. In December, Molly obtained a destructive Covid take a look at they usually have been lastly capable of hug. “It was still outdoors but it was so great to be close,” says Duncan.

Soon after they met in particular person, the UK went into its third lockdown. Molly went house to reside along with her mother and father in Yorkshire and continued her research on-line. Around that point, Duncan’s most cancers signs returned. “I had some pressure in my neck and at first I thought I might have Covid,” he says. But assessments revealed the lymphoma was again and he would want a brand new course of remedy. In March 2021, earlier than he was as a consequence of start chemotherapy, Molly went to stick with him and his household in Cumbria. “I told her I loved her there and then,” he says. “I also told her it was a lot to deal with, and I would understand if it was all too much.”

The subsequent few months have been an enormous battle for them each. Duncan’s remedy wasn’t profitable, which meant one other spherical of chemotherapy, alongside immunotherapy. “There were lots of ups and downs,” says Molly. “He had anaphylactic shock after one of the treatments and I didn’t hear from him for hours. The chemo became normal but at the same time it really wasn’t. I couldn’t go out much as it meant I couldn’t see him.”

As effectively as battling the side-effects of remedy, Duncan additionally discovered it tough to be trapped indoors. “I was so jealous of other people my age going out. We wanted to be a normal 20-year-old couple,” he says.

Duncan bought the all clear in the summertime, however needed to have a stem cell transplant and a closing spherical of intense chemotherapy. Now that he’s in remission, Duncan will begin college once more in September, whereas Molly continues her research. “We’re looking forward to doing normal things,” she says. “We have been to the cinema together for the first time and we want to go on holiday. It’s exciting to be able to make plans.”

Duncan describes his girlfriend as “a ray of sunshine … She’s been really strong. During the worst of what life could throw at me, Molly was there to make it bearable. She’s also passionate about nature, like me, and gorgeous.”

Molly loves that Duncan appreciates her for who she is. “He’s no nonsense and always stands up for himself,” says Molly. “We have been each other’s support system through this trauma and it has made us stronger. He never stops enjoying life.”

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