A couple in Jerusalem will marry in Aderet in central Israel next week after meeting as cancer patients three years ago.
Last minute wedding preparations are underway for university students Eliav Marland, 26, and Etti Davidov, 25, to tie the knot next Thursday.
Eliav’s grandfather Leslie Kay is the honorary secretary of the Fed welfare group in Manchester and was made a BEM last year.
Around 200 guests are expected to gather for the intimate ceremony held in the moshav, which overlooks the Valley of Elah. “It will be very beautiful,” Eliav said.
Eliav told JN the unique story of how he and Etti came to fall in love.
The biology and chemistry student revealed he was diagnosed in 2015 with a rare form of cancer which affects the pharynx while serving in the Israeli navy.
He received three months’ treatment, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy, before doctors told him he had made a full recovery in May 2016.
His fiancé Etti, who studies art, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 21 while she served in the army and underwent surgery to remove the tumour as well as chemotherapy.
The two met during a trip to Eilat with cancer charity Zichron Menachem. “We were both at the end of our treatment,” Eliav said. ”I was half bald and had lost a lot of weight and she had a boyfriend.”
Their paths crossed again in 2017 in Jerusalem during a night out with mutual friends they had met during their treatments. “Etti is such an amazing, intelligent, beautiful, funny woman and I had no idea she was interested in me, so I didn’t pick up on anything,” Eliav said.
Eliav proposed in May last year in Jerusalem’s botanical gardens. “I set up a picnic blanket with champagne and chocolates and fruit that she liked and I proposed,” he said.
“She cried. She was very happy, and it was clear to us both that it was going to happen. We were very happy,” he said.
Dating a fellow cancer survivor, he revealed, brings a level of understanding that no one else can give you.
“Every cancer survivor I know, no matter how many years after recovery are still dealing with all sorts of issues. Sometimes it can be mental health or dating problems,” he said. “I cheated the system by dating someone who is also a cancer survivor,” he added.
Reentering the dating scene after recovery poses a number of challenges. “Sometimes it can be a body image problem, if you lost a lot of weight or have very serious scars or bald patches,” he said.
“I remember thinking ‘when should you bring up the cancer’, or ‘how do you bring it up?’ and ‘when is it weird to explain whether it is hereditary or not?’”
Cancer patients and survivors, Eliav said, should surround themselves with others who have experienced similar challenges. “The friends I have from those circles are the best friends I have, and no one will understand you like they do,” he added.