Upstate couple finds love during chemo

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SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA) – From high school sweethearts to college romance, there are countless ways couples meet and fall in love.

But for one South Carolina couple, they fell in love with what many would consider a hopeless place.

Shauna Johnson admits that it wasn’t exactly love at first sight when she first saw Michael Bays on a dating app.

“I saw his profile several times,” Johnson said. “I didn’t stop on him.”

“I saw a lot of Clemson, a lot of orange,” she said. “But he kept popping up, so, finally, I said ‘well, he’s really cute…so.'”

So Johnson swiped and they went on their first date.

“Then, she fell immediately in love with me,” Bays said.

“That is not what happened,” Johnson said.

On that first date, Bays, a divorced dad raising two boys, brought something up you don’t normally consider first date material.

“When you have cancer, you don’t just throw that on the table right off the bat when you first meet someone and it’s kind of a depressing first date conversation I guess you can say,” he said.

“We talked further, and I found out he really was coming off a very long cancer battle that was scarier still,” Johnson said.

Scary, but not scary enough to put the brakes on a second date, one that would come weeks later at a place Bays had become familiar with over the course of his battle with cancer.

“I found out he was still undergoing chemo, and I assumed people had support systems for chemo. I said ‘who’s going with you’ and when I found out he was doing it alone, I asked if I could come,” Johnson said. “We fell in love at chemo, which is crazy.”

Six months after their first date, Johnson had a fainting episode.

“I don’t necessarily eat well, so I assumed it was related to that,” Johnson said.

Months of tests would reveal news Johnson never saw coming.

“I was diagnosed with Lymphoma,” she said. “Further tests indicated it’s something call Waldenstroms macroglobulanemia, which is a blood cancer which is nearly identical to what Mike has.”

This development was a shocking turn for Johnson and is one she does not see as a coincidence.

“It’s just such a crazy story, and I think it happened for a reason,” she said.

“We kind of look at each other like ‘kinda glad you went through this’ in its own little crazy way,” Bays said.

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