A man gave his girlfriend something extra to fight for when he proposed at her hospital bedside, moments after she woke from a month-long coma. Laying eyes on the man she loves after 30 days in the dark, she said yes.
Public health student Viktoria Cupay, 25, has had lupus since 2016, an incurable autoimmune disease that can cause joint pain, fever, skin rashes, and organ damage. In 2019, Viktoria fell ill and her mother took her to the emergency room at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Illinois, thinking it was “just another lupus flare-up.”
However, it turned out to be much worse.
“I mostly cannot remember the next few months,” Viktoria told The Epoch Times, “but I was suffering from toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), an extreme allergic reaction to a medication.
“More than 50 percent of my body was burned, my skin peeled off, and my internal organs were damaged,” she explained. “I had to stay in a medically induced coma for about a month.”
However, Viktoria’s boyfriend, Nicholas Baldo, was within arm’s reach when she woke. As soon as she stabilized, dressed in protective gear, he leaned in with a very special piece of jewelry in his hands: his grandmother’s ring.
In moving footage of the magical moment shot by Viktoria’s mom, Greta, he asks Viktoria, “Will you marry me?” Unable to speak, Viktoria gives Nicholas her hand to accept the ring and extends both arms to embrace him.
“I was surprised and honored at the same time,” she recalled. “A music therapist was in the room playing music for us, and my mom made lots of paper flowers to decorate my hospital room.”
Born in the Philippines, now living in Chicago, Viktoria had met Nicholas in San Francisco in 2018 while visiting a friend. Describing the 31-year-old software product manager as “humble and kind,” she was nonetheless bowled over by his conviction to stay, through thick and thin.
“When you think of the unimaginable, such as me being in a coma—and I changed so much, physically—I wouldn’t have thought of him staying,” she said. “When I was at my worst, Nick chose to see the best in me, and that’s everything I have prayed for in a man.”
The proposal almost never happened. The week prior, Viktoria had had several close calls and emergencies where she needed to be revived twice. Her loved ones watched over her 24 hours a day, practically living out of her hospital room. Viktoria strongly believes that she wouldn’t have pulled through without them, her doctors, and nurses along the way.
“At the hospital, I would just tell her how everything’s gonna be okay and that we love her,” Nicholas told Metro. “If there was good news, I would always share that.”
After a total of 240 days in different hospitals, Viktoria was discharged. And, slowly, her condition improved too.
However, with no cure available for lupus and the condition requiring lifelong management according to Cleaveland Clinic, Viktoria does face challenges.
“Physically, lupus is a constant battle where there are always bad surprises,” she told The Epoch Times. “One year it might be kidney trouble, the next year it might be my intestines, and if it isn’t the lupus causing problems, it will be the side effects of my medication. Mentally, lupus lowers my energy levels and causes me to live in fear of another flare-up.”
Even when she is “healthy,” Viktoria takes several trips to the hospital every month for checkups and blood work. There is a “high likelihood” that lupus and TEN are linked, she claimed, since both are related to immune system function. Additionally, since her coma, Viktoria has battled complications owing to both conditions.
Due to her condition, it’s hard to make plans, Viktoria admits, yet she and Nicholas are excited about the future.
“We’re in the middle of planning our wedding right now,” she shared. “It will be in August 2022, in Chicago. We will be celebrating it with close family and friends.”
The bride-to-be reflected: “With life comes challenges, so acknowledge and cherish the people who will be there with you, no matter what. Never take anything for granted.”
“I am forever grateful to the people who have been there to support me in my journey,” Viktoria added. “I would not be here today without their love and support.”
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(Courtesy of Cater News)