Nathan Ker’s life was torn apart when he was diagnosed with a brain tumour in August 2014.
But what kept him going was his girlfriend, Rikki Milne, who he had only known for three weeks before falling catastrophically ill.
At his bedside, as Nathan tried to cope with what was happening to him, his doting girlfriend knelt down on one knee and asked him to marry her.
Accepting immediately, Nathan is now on the path to recovery – and has released a touching tribute to the woman he calls his other half.
The excavator operator and hip hop artist penned the track as a thank you to his Australian partner, who has cared for him ever since his left side went numb and he was rushed to hospital.
As Nathan has been unable to work since his surgery due to having non convulsive seizures, Rikki and her family have supported him, while his neurologist tries to put the 25-year-old back together.
Using a state of the art machine called a Meg Scan; Dr Chris Plummer is trying to investigate Nathan’s seizures, and is hoping to find a cure.
Rikki and Nathan currently live in Melbourne, but Nathan says he’s desperate to get back to hometown Nelson and show his fiancée where he grew up.
Speaking exclusively to womensweekly.co.nz, Nathan said:
“Every day I have is a blessing now.
“I was never really afraid of death, as I didn't have much appreciation for the life I lived, but now I'm the complete opposite.
“After having to fight so hard to stay alive, I have a whole new appreciation for how precious it is - especially after seeing how upset my friends and family were when I was sick."
But the struggle isn’t over. Nathan’s health means he still can’t do things as he normally would, and he admits some days are hard.
“I know how much the people around me need me now and I will always try to be strong for them no matter what,” said Nathan, who hopes he can marry Rikki one day in the future.
“Rikki’s planned pretty much everything to do with our wedding from the songs to what she'll wear, but with her being the only one that can work at the moment we just don't have the money.
“She's said she'd be happy with doing something small at home for it instead but I want to give her the wedding of her dreams."
Things haven’t been easy for the young couple, with Nathan telling Rikki to leave him when he first found out about his tumour.
“I couldn't drag someone I'd known only three weeks through something like that, even though I was almost certain she was the one.”
But Rikki refused to leave, and Nathan has since said he doesn’t know what he would have done without her constant support.
So what can Nathan look forward to in the future, apart from a cure?
“My dream is to become a famous hip hop artist but if I could get back to work as an excavator operator I'd be happy.
“The biggest lesson I've learned so far is to appreciate every day you are given because not one day has been promised to you, and life is taken away just as easily as it was given to you.
“Treat everyone the way you'd want to be treated because life can be short and you never know when it might be the last time you see someone.”
Check out Nathan’s tribute to his girlfriend on his Facebook page here..
Words: Ellie Hooper
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