21st February 2017
“We Always Managed to Remember Why we Fell in Love” – Line Young Peteri
Line Young Peteri tells OurWedding about her battle against cancer, sustaining her marriage in the toughest of times, and looking towards the future with optimism.
The Brave Battle
“When I was due to give birth to our second child, the doctor noticed something on my neck. We thought it was just struma (swelling in the neck), which apparently is quite normal when you’re pregnant. With a baby coming and a 3-year-old, I didn’t give it much thought, I felt I had my hands full,” says Line Young Peteri.
It wasn’t until six months later that Line was complaining to a friend about how she found it strange that she didn’t lose weight after having her child, considering she had started running four to five times a week. “She had told me it might have something to do with my thyroid. Before then, I had honestly never heard about the thyroid let alone thought you could have cancer there.”
She subsequently had her first surgery to remove her thyroid as well as three tumours, and some months later, she underwent her first radioactive iodine treatment. “It´s painless, but I had to move away from my family and my two little kids for four weeks. My youngest was not even a year old, and in fact, I missed her first birthday.”
After the treatment, Line started running again to try build up her immune system, but less than a year later, she needed two ankle surgeries after damaging the ligaments in both her ankles. Soon after the second ankle surgery, she underwent a second round of radioactive iodine treatment, this time followed by six weeks in isolation.
“Six months after my second radioactive iodine treatment, they found out that I was rai-resistant, which means that I became immune to the treatment, and even on the scans it is harder to locate the cancer,” says Line. “Fast forward to today, I had another five surgeries and beam radiation in London, and spent around 100 days away from my family in 12 months. But thankfully, my tumour marker is low, and I hope to have some good years now, with no surgery or treatments. I will never be 100 per cent cured, and have experienced lots of side effects since, including loss of teeth and chronic muscle cramps, but I’m rocking and kicking!”
Strength and Support
Line’s support system has played an instrumental part in her recovery, particularly that of her husband, who she recounts having met while queueing to use the loo at a music festival almost 10 years ago.
“He’s from Sweden and I’m from Denmark, and things moved quite fast between us. We moved in together after just five weeks, a year later we moved to London and while living there, we decided to get married in Vegas!” Around eight years ago, the couple decided to move to Malta, which is where their two children were born – a decision Line says she never regretted.
Throughout her recovery, Line admits that holding her relationship together was not always easy, and it came with its own set of challenges. “My husband is amazing! However, in the first year, I felt very much alone, as we were both dealing with our own separate struggles, and yes it was hard. There were periods where I didn't think we would make it, when the relationship becomes more of a burden than something good, but we have always been good at finding each other again, even during hard times. No matter how bad it got, we somehow always managed to remember why we fell in love, even if my husband can be a stiff Swede :) He can also be romantic though – one time, while I was in isolation, he compiled notes, a love letter and pictures of us and the kids, one for each day I was gone.”
The pain of dealing with illness can have its way with even the strongest of couples – how did Line and her husband get through the toughest of times? “I wish I can say we did in a dignified way, but we fought and it was painful. In time, however, I learned how to explain my pain and worries in a way that helped my husband understand, and today we are stronger than ever.”
Line adds that as a couple, they’re also aware of the importance of making an effort for each other. “Going on date nights, dressing up for each other, and also complimenting each other too are important – I remember, after getting my split sternum surgery, I felt very unattractive and if he touched me, I would almost start hissing at him. How do you explain that to someone you love? But that’s what marriage is about… for better and worse.”
The road ahead
Line’s words of advice to couples going through a similar experience are to communicate openly and talk a lot. “It sounds like a cliché, but in the beginning, it’s as though we both waited for it to be over, and forgot to live. Don’t make that mistake – don’t stop talking, dreaming or dating each other. Life throws some heavy stuff at us but a relationship should never be taken for granted. Both parties have to work for it… it takes hard work to be happy.”