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My Unsung Hero: A partner's love, care and commitment during chemotherapy

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

OK. Time now for "My Unsung Hero," our new series from the team at Hidden Brain. "My Unsung Hero" tells the stories of people whose kindness left a lasting impression. Deb Merchant's unsung hero is her partner of 22 years, Scott Stevens.

DEB MERCHANT: In 2003, Scott and I had been dating for just a couple of years when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And I gave him the choice to opt out of the relationship. And he didn't hesitate to say, no, we're a team. We're doing this together. And so we did.

After biopsy and Tamoxifen and radiation, the doctor said, we'll never see you again. Couple of years later, however, the cancer came back, and this time it was a different matter. This involved many surgeries. And in January 2007, I started six months of chemotherapy.

Our first visit, I thought for sure that Scott would drop me off, head back to his office to continue his work and come pick me up at the end of the day. And instead, he stayed with me all day, making sure I had the right food and tea, being comfortable in a chair with the right pillow and warm blanket. And then he went to the next person and asked them, are you comfortable? Can I get you anything? Would you like a warm blanket or a pillow? How about some hot tea? And then he went to the next person and the next person and the next person. And I thought maybe the first day that that would be it, but he stuck with me every single week through chemotherapy. And he went to every single person in every single chair every single week throughout that entire period.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

MERCHANT: Scott's care and love of people comes first. He's actually said to me, I'll take love over money any day. And he demonstrated that when we went through chemotherapy together. It's his commitment to be present for someone he loves that made a huge difference in my life. And that's why he's my unsung hero.

CHANG: That was Deb Merchant of Albany, Ore. Merchant has been cancer-free for the last 13 years. She and Scott love to hike, snowshoe and camp in the Cascade Mountains. "My Unsung Hero" is also a podcast. You can find new episodes every Tuesday and Thursday.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.