In 2014, Mr. Shirley took the space out of their long-distance relationship by transferring to Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Ore., the place Ms. Valdez had enrolled upon graduating from highschool. The following yr, in May 2015, docs deemed Mia cancer-free.
“Our prayers were answered,” Ms. Valdez stated. “We were so thrilled for her.”
Three years later, in 2018, her sister Makenna, then 17, was identified with lymphoma.
At the time, Ms. Valdez was residing Houston, the place she had moved after graduating from faculty. She had lately damaged up with Mr. Shirley, who was nonetheless residing in Portland. But as soon as she obtained the information of Makenna’s analysis, Ms. Valdez known as him, and they had been quickly again collectively.
In April 2020, shortly after Ms. Valdez was accepted at Duke, she discovered of a 3rd analysis: Her mom, Jennifer Davis, had thyroid most cancers. She thought-about placing regulation college on maintain and transferring again to Albuquerque, however Ms. Davis suggested her in opposition to it. “You have to go,” Ms. Valdez recalled her mom telling her. “No one we know has had an opportunity like this.”
Months later, in June 2020, docs declared Ms. Davis cancer-free. That summer time, Ms. Valdez and Mr. Shirley moved collectively to Durham, N.C, the place they at present dwell. By then, Mr. Shirley stated, “I wanted to live wherever Marissa was,” including, “I never once had second thoughts about” their transfer.
The following yr, in February 2021, Makenna, now 21, was additionally deemed freed from most cancers. That July, the couple grew to become engaged at Tingley Beach, a recreation and wildlife park alongside the Rio Grande in Albuquerque. Mr. Shirley, ring in hand, dropped to 1 knee and proposed as a dozen of their members of the family got here out of hiding to assist have fun. Because of some inclement climate, it didn’t come as a complete shock to Ms. Valdez.