By David T. Valentin
For the past decade, Emmy Award-winning writer Suleika Jaouad has been outspoken on her experiences with cancer back in 2011 and her four-yearlong battle with the disease. Jaouad details in her book Between Two Kingdoms: A Memoir of a Life Interrupted an honest look of how her life was suddenly flipped upside down after being diagnosed with cancer just out of college.
“It started with an itch—first on her feet, then up her legs, like a thousand invisible mosquito bites,” the summary of her book reads. “Next came the exhaustion, and the six-hour naps that only deepened her fatigue. Then a trip the doctor and, a few weeks shy of her twenty-third birthday, a diagnosis: leukemia, with a 35 percent chance of survival... She would spend much of the next four years in a hospital bed, fighting for her life and chronicling the saga in a column for The New York Times.”
Many cancer patients have left overwhelmingly positive reviews of Jaouad’s book as she details what many cancer survivors go through and continue to go through with the fear that maybe one day such a deadly illness may come back.
Now, Suleika is diagnosed for a second time with leukemia. While the moment is scary for her, her story of resilience not only inspires other cancer patients and survivors to push through and continue living their life as best they can, but that they don’t have to go through it alone.
Just days before Jaouad was diagnosed for a second time with leukemia, her boyfriend and American singer, Jon Batiste, got engaged after her second diagnosis and then secretly married just days before her bone marrow transplant.
“He said to me, ‘I just want to be very clear, I’m not proposing to you because of this diagnosis,” she told CBS Sunday Morning. “It’s taken me a year to design your ring. So, just know this timing has nothing to do with it. But what I do want you to know is that this diagnosis doesn’t change anything. It just makes it all the clearer to me that I want to commit to this and for us to be together. But once we realized we had this tiny window before the bone marrow transplant, we decided to go for it.”
The ceremony was private with only four people present. As Suleika tells the story, she details how the two didn’t even have wedding bands but instead used bread ties. Through it all, Batiste wrote her lullabies and spoke to him virtually every day.