By Alyce Collins
DESPITE only having been on ONE DATE, this woman’s boyfriend moved from Vancouver to London to be with her after her shocking cancer diagnosis, and she admits that cancer made their love stronger.
Global brand ambassador, Emily Gosling (31) from Bermuda, who moved to Ontario, Canada at 14 had been working for the family’s rum business since 2013, which gave her the exciting prospect of relocating to London in January 2018.
However, during a business trip to Vancouver in May 2017, Emily met Dave Bulters (31), a wine director for a restaurant selling Emily’s brand of rum. The pair hit it off instantly, but Emily was aware that she was moving to London, so nothing came of it.
Relocating to Clapham was an exciting new challenge for Emily. However, just a few months later, Emily returned to Vancouver for another business trip, during which she saw Dave again and the pair went on their first date. Although they knew they wouldn’t get to live in the same city for a year until Emily moved back to Canada, they both felt there was something good between them and they opted to try long distance.
Dave and Emily spoke about how they’d decorate a flat together and what trips they would take when they were reunited. Dave even found a flat and the lease began in April 2019, so Emily intended to move to Vancouver for that. However, after experiencing night sweats, bloating, kidney pain and fatigue for a few weeks, Emily saw her GP who referred her for an ultrasound. The results of the ultrasound looked troubling, so Emily had an emergency MRI and the following day she was diagnosed with germ cell ovarian cancer on March 19, 2019.
Within a week of her diagnosis, Dave flew to London to be with Emily, and as the cancer was aggressive, she began chemotherapy immediately, followed by surgery to remove the seven-inch tumour. The cancer diagnosis derailed the couple’s plans to live together, but Dave made the decision to quit his job in Vancouver to move to London so he could support Emily.
Emily believes that the months spent living together in London deeply strengthened their relationship because he remained by her side throughout her battle.
“Dave and I met briefly in May 2017 while I was on a business trip in Vancouver. He was working as the wine director at a restaurant carrying Goslings Rum,” said Emily.
“Dave and I didn’t go on our first date until the next May, when I was back in Vancouver on business again.
“When we first met, I was preparing to move to London so we knew we wouldn’t be able to be together in the same city for over a year. But after our date we knew it was worth the wait, so we agreed to do long distance.
“I’d been experiencing night sweats, a swollen stomach, kidney pains and fatigue over the previous few weeks and they were getting worse. My doctor said it could have been due to stress caused by moving countries or a stomach ulcer.
“She asked me to come back in two weeks if my symptoms didn’t improve. Nothing changed so I emailed my doctor to schedule an appointment and when I saw my doctor I asked if she could examine me, and once she felt my stomach she booked an ultrasound for later that day, which then led to an emergency MRI. I returned the next morning and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
“Before I left her office, I was taken to another room so I could absorb the information and call Dave. It was around five am for him, and I was a little shaky, but he remembers how calm and matter of fact I was. When you hear news like that, your mind goes into survival mode.
“The afternoon of my diagnosis, I met with a gynaecological oncology surgeon to discuss my options. It was shocking to hear all of this over a few hours. Then a few days later, I had a CT scan to determine whether the cancer had spread, fortunately it hadn’t.
“My GP said that based on the results of the CT, and the size and speed of tumour growth, I would undergo four to six months of chemotherapy to shrink the tumour before they operated.
“Dave arrived in London on March 26, and he came to an appointment with my oncologist where we were hoping to arrange a treatment plan for when I returned to Vancouver. What we were told instead was that the tumour was too aggressive, and I’d be starting chemotherapy that evening!
“We had about an hour before I had to be back in the hospital, so Dave and I walked to a nearby park. It was there that he told me that he was going to quit his job and move to London. I was so relieved, but I was also so angry because cancer hadn’t only taken over my life, it had taken over his too.”
Emily began chemotherapy at the end of March before having surgery on May 28 to remove the tumour, which was seven inches long and over three inches wide. Surgeons also removed her right ovary, right fallopian tube, appendix and lymph nodes, leaving her with 45 staples in her sternum.
In June, Emily’s oncologist permitted her to return to Vancouver to complete her treatment as her recovery from surgery was going well, so they flew back on June 29. The experience has connected Emily and Dave to a new and unexpected level, and although it was more difficult than they had initially planned, she is proud of what their relationship endured.
“I knew early on there was something special about Dave, and I was so excited to build a home with him. During my time in London, many of our phone conversations were sp
ent planning how we’d decorate the flat, the trips we’d go on, and how we’d like to spend our life together,” she said.
“The one positive thing about the cancer diagnosis was that we got to live together sooner than we’d planned, even though the situation wasn’t quite what we had planned. There’s no doubt that the months in London strengthened our relationship. He was by my side the whole time, and while our plan A might have been easier, I wouldn’t trade the time we spent together or the experiences we’ve shared.
“Dave has been part of the fertility conversation since my diagnosis, because this affects him too. We talked about having kids before my diagnosis, and he’s been so supportive throughout this entire process. He wants the best for me, and we both agree that the best thing is for me to survive.
“Ten weeks after my surgery, we met with my doctor to find out the result of my post-surgery imagery. As much as we were all hoping for the all clear, a new mass had formed, this time on my left ovary.
“So, my second surgery is scheduled for October 7, and it’s been a complicated mental and emotional challenge knowing I will be having another surgery. Waking up wondering if I can still have children is a difficult thing to go through once, but I’ll be doing that twice.
“Throughout this whole process, Dave has never made me feel like he was trapped or angry for the unexpected turn our lives took. He is the strongest man I’ve ever met, and he was there for me every step of the way. Something like this brings out the truth in a person, and I feel like I truly know him.”
To see more, visit www.instagram.com/emily_goslings