In Illness and in Well being, They Stayed in Sync

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In Sickness and in Health, They Stayed in Sync

In July 2018, Jessica Vande Werken was nervously waiting for her date Robin Imogene Goode in Cubbyhole, a bar in Manhattan. They had matched Tinder and were meeting in person for the first time. When Mrs. Goode walked into the bar, Mrs. Vande Werken noticed her immediately.

“She came in and I said, ‘Whoa, she’s beautiful,'” said Ms. Vande Werken, 33.

The two hit it off and went to a comedy show together later that night. Both had travel plans, so they didn’t meet again for dinner about a month later. They had their first kiss in front of a subway station after their third date at a Brooklyn wine bar.

“Then we saw each other the whole time,” said Ms. Goode, 29.

About six months after their relationship, they discovered that Ms. Goode’s breast was lumpy. Ms. Goode was 27 years old at the time and had no family history of breast cancer. When Ms. Goode made an appointment with her GP, the doctor suggested that she wait a month and get an ultrasound if the lump didn’t go away.

They spent the next month preoccupying their thoughts. In early January they took a trip to Greenport, NY, where they drank wine, played scrabble, and sang karaoke.

“It’s been the best weekend ever,” said Ms. Goode, a Charleston, SC-based program and customer relations manager at Laspau, a nonprofit affiliated with Harvard.

Shortly after they returned to New York, Ms. Goode learned that she had a rare form of breast cancer.

“I mean, Jess saved my life in the most physical sense,” Ms. Goode said of Ms. Vande Werken, who first noticed the knot. “When I was 27, I did absolutely no self-exams, and who knows when I would have found it myself.”

The day after the diagnosis they moved in together, and Ms. Goode scheduled a double mastectomy on February 15. On their first Valentine’s Day together, the couple went out for a very early dinner and then went home to prepare for Ms. Goode’s surgery.

“It was really difficult,” said Ms. Vande Werken, creative director at R / GA, a digital design company also based in Charleston. “But I remember thinking when it happened that we’d just get through this. We’re going to find out how to do it, and we’re going to get through this. “

Ms. Goode received chemotherapy over the next several months and received final treatment in July 2019. After months of uncertainty, the couple was ready to move on to the next chapter in their lives. They had talked about getting married, and in December 2019 Ms. Goode set an appointment to look at engagement rings. It should come as a surprise, but it didn’t last long – Ms. Vande Werken made an appointment in the same shop that same day.

A month later, on another trip to Greenport, Ms. Vande suggested works on the beach. Mrs. Goode said yes and pulled out a ring too – she had planned to propose at the same time on the same beach.

“We just have so much fun together and even do super boring things,” said Ms. Vande Werken. “I’m excited to always have that.”

In March 2020, the couple moved to Charleston, where Ms. Vande Werken plans to open a wine bar. They bought a house together and made an appointment in November for a small wedding with just their family.

A few weeks before their wedding, Ms. Goode tested positive for Covid-19. The couple went into isolation and recovered in time to celebrate the wedding as planned. They were married on November 28 in a rental property near their Charleston home in front of seven family members. The bride’s fathers, Jerry Vande Werken and Daniel Goode, both ministers of Universal Life, will chair the ceremony. (After a coin toss, Mr. Vande Werken was given the right to be the legal officer.)

“One of the first things that immediately attracted me to Jess was how motivated she is,” said Ms. Goode, who wants to take the last name from Ms. Vande Werken. “That carried over to everything we do.”