Cancer becomes matchmaker for British-Israeli couple

"People who have had cancer understand you in a way others can't"

August 25, 2019 12:42
2 minute read.
A MARRIAGE proposal.

A MARRIAGE proposal.. (photo credit: REUTERS)

It wasn't love at first sight - in fact, when they first saw each other, Etti had a boyfriend and Eliav was bald and underweight as a result of chemo. But cancer brought the two students together – and last Thursday, the beautiful young Israel-British couple married, it was reported in the Jewish Chronicle.

Eliav Marland has British roots - his parents Warren Marland and Gillian Kay moved to Israel in 1992 from Manchester; his grandfather, Leslie Kay, is very active in the Manchester Federation.

Eliav and Etti met each other four years ago through the cancer support groups they attended. “We wouldn’t have met if it wasn't for cancer,” Eliav Marland told the London-based weekly Jewish newspaper.

Now, they are both in remission and are students: Eliav is studying biology and chemistry at Hebrew University, and Etti is at Bezalel College studying art.

Their romance didn't flow as smoothly as it could have. This was mainly due to Eliav being slow off the mark - “I’m not very bright,” he joked.

They met a second time through mutual friends and started chatting at a bar. Eliav recalls, “She was so funny and beautiful and intelligent that I didn’t think she’d be into me. At the end of the evening she put her number in my phone.”

After talking on the phone for a few weeks, Eliav finally came around to realize that Etti saw this as more than just friendship.

Then, the next obstacle: Eliav was going on a post-army trip. “We both said we’re not taking it too seriously and whatever happens happens, but it was clear a week after I left that we’d stay together,” he told the Chronicle.

“Something that’s very difficult for cancer patients and people recovering from cancer is that, for at least a year after treatment, we look to surround ourselves with people who have had similar experiences,"he said. "People who have had cancer understand you in a way that others can’t, and you can even laugh about experiences with cancer."

“And, even moving on, we don’t call ourselves sick or healthy – you’re either battling or recovering," he added.

“You’re always dealing with something, even now when I’m four years after treatment. You’re forever recovering – and it’s so much easier and you get much more support with someone who understands."

 A lot has to do with body image, Eliav said. "There are things that make you stand out: I have a hearing aid."

Anything that has to do with cancer, "can make things hard at the start of a relationship," he said.

“Also, at what point at the start of a relationship do you have to bring up cancer? "he asked. "I found a loophole – I don’t have to deal with it.”

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