Pascagoulan Derek Terry's wife matches him step for step on cancer journey

Terry's wife matches him step for step on cancer journey

jmitchell@sunherald.comJuly 12, 2014 

She wore a floor-length lace dress with a headband sculpted with colorful wildflowers. The picture still hangs on the refrigerator in their house. He wore a dress shirt and sweater and kept his facial hair unshaven because that's what she wanted.

They "locally eloped" at the Jackson County Courthouse on Nov. 16, 2012. They had lived together since 2009 and were engaged for nearly three years. They didn't need the big wedding and lavish reception. Their love was enough.

"He really is my best friend," Tori Terry said.

"I don't think I can imagine being without her," Derek Terry said.

She was his free spirit, and he was her rock.

When his hair began falling out in the shower, she was there to say it was OK. When his beard fell out, she didn't care. When his eyelashes began to fall, they made jokes about his baby face.

When he couldn't hold any food down, she made sure he drank a high-calorie shake. She made sure the trash can was close if he got nauseated.

When he was in the middle of chemotherapy, she would walk to the cafeteria to buy his favorite, cheese grits, even if he didn't eat them.

She arranged her work schedule to be able to attend every medical appointment and chemotherapy visit. She was there for his orcheoctomy. She didn't miss a single PET scan.

She turned their dining room into a finance office, logging all of their expenses and medical bills. She applied for financial assistance when she had to. She knew when all of the bills were due, which they could pay late, and when his next doctor's appointment was.

He wouldn't cry in front of her. His worst fear was dying. He was afraid he wouldn't be around for her. He didn't want to be a burden, but taking care of Derek never bothered Tori.

She feared the worst-case scenario would be losing him, but she drew from his strength to help him fight -- and beat -- cancer. She didn't care what capacity he was in, as long as he was with her.

Through six months of testicular cancer, they were there for each other every step of the way. When Dr. Brian Persing told him, "You're in remission," they both took a breath of fresh air.

His hair is growing back. She has turned the dining room into an art studio.

"We'll lay in bed longer in the morning and really talk," Derek said. "We've slowed down."

She can't imagine life without him.

"The thought of waking up in the morning and him not being there makes my throat catch," Tori said. "I love him so much."

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