A breast cancer survivor who participated in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure on Sunday got the surprise of her life when her boyfriend proposed on live television.
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For the past five months, Tracie Benjamin, 30, has been battling breast cancer. Her mother is a 10-year breast cancer survivor; however, Benjamin had tested negative for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. So in December, she was surprised to feel a lump in her left breast. At the time, doctors dismissed the lump as “dense tissue,” but in January another one surfaced. “I had a gut feeling that something was wrong, so I went in for more testing,” Benjamin told Yahoo Shine. “I found out on April 15—ironically tax day—that I had stage two breast cancer.”
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Shortly after her diagnosis, Benjamin, the owner of PDX Pedal Promotions, a mobile billboard advertising company, had her eggs frozen (“The chemo can destroy your reproductive system,” she explained) and a double mastectomy. Ryan Connor, 28, her boyfriend of seven years, stayed by her side throughout the entire ordeal. “We had discussed marriage in the past, but I didn’t want to pressure him for a proposal,” said Benjamin. “However, his mother and I would secretly send each other website links to engagement rings we loved.”
Benjamin was participating in an on-air interview with KATU, a local Portland, Oregon station, after the 5k race when her boyfriend suddenly stepped in front of the camera. “I was trying to focus on the interview and was so confused about why he was interrupting,” said Benjamin. “I was thinking to myself, ‘Um, can you move?’"
Her boyfriend began his speech by saying, “I love you, Tracie.”
“Thank you!” she replied.
“I love you so much and I want to be with you and I want you to know that,” he said. As he dropped to one knee, Benjamin’s mouth dropped open. He said, “I want to ask you to marry me. Spend the rest of your life with me.”
Her response: “Yes. Of course!”
The proposal was a surprise, even for Connor, who had been searching for the right moment to pop the question. “I was insanely nervous,” he told Yahoo Shine. “The newscasters had no idea I would do it, and honestly, neither did I. At the last minute, I pulled the camera guy aside and he told me to go for it. I wanted to tell her how much I love her at a vulnerable moment for her. I’m happy that she said yes.”
In May, Benjamin was declared breast cancer free, but she still has two more rounds of chemotherapy to endure and will have to take anti-estrogen pills for the next 10 years. “It’s been tough because I had lost my hair and my breasts and I can’t exercise. I haven’t been feeling very feminine but what Ryan did was very romantic," said Benjamin.
Next up for the couple: ring shopping. “Ryan didn’t propose with a ring so we’re going ring shopping which I’m excited about,” said Benjamin. “I don’t want a traditional diamond—I’ll pick a pink sapphire. It’s a color I’ve always loved, and with pink being the official color for breast cancer, it now has even more special meaning.”
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