Your average love story usually doesn't include a diagnosis of cancer, but it's a big chapter in the story of Dolly & Bud Stringer's marriage.
"They told me I'd have surgery, treatment, and I'd be fine," Dolly Stringer said Wednesday.
Dolly was diagnosed with breast cancer back in April. When she shaved her head for chemotherapy, Bud buzzed his thick hair to show his support.
"I jumped in the room and said, 'Hey guys, what do you think?' They said, 'Wow, that's a big ugly black mark on the top of your head.' And I said, 'What are you talking about?" Bud said Wednesday.
The mark ended up being a massive, Stage III melanoma...the deadliest form of skin cancer.
"If it wasn't for his wife and his shaving his head, he would have gone on for many months, completely unaware of this," said Bud's physician, Dr. Vernon Sondak, who heads Cutaneous Oncology at Moffitt Cancer Center.
The otherwise unseen cancer had grown to the size of a half-dollar coin.
"The melanoma was already starting to spread. We wanted all of those lymphnodes in the neck area removed," Dr. Sondak said Wednesday.
Oncologists had to remove a 2x3 inch section of his scalp.
"His melanoma is very aggressive. I was told by the time he would have had symptoms, it would have been too late," Dolly said.
Today, the Stringers are battling cancer together. These days, date nights consist of treatments at Moffitt Cancer Center.
"We just take it one day at a time and schedule it one week at a time," Dolly said.
Despite a whirlwind of surgeries and appointments, good reports and bad, the couple's positivity continues to persevere.
"Him getting cancer gave mine purpose. I just didn't understand how an active, somewhat healthy person could have this? Then when he got it, I realized, there was a reason," Dolly said Wednesday.
That's why the Stringers are still smiling. Twenty-years of deep-rooted love turned out to be their cure for cancer.
"I think I'm just about as lucky as they get. This beautiful bald head saved my life," Bud smiled.
The Stringers drive back and forth to Moffitt from their home in Moultrie, Georgia. Their hometown community is holding a fundraiser on October 20th to raise money for their mounting medical bills.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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