To everyone complaining about “kids these days,” here’s a story to renew your faith in the upcoming generation.
Riley Nicolay and Deidre Sechi, both 18, are high school sweethearts in their freshman year at Iowa State University.
The two have been together for almost three years, their beautiful smiles beaming out from a host of Facebook photos. In addition to these beautiful smiles, they appear to share a great sense of humour, mugging for the camera in a way most of us lose as we get older and more self-conscious.
Then last semester happened. That’s when Sechi learned she had a baseball-sized tumour in her stomach and would have to undergo aggressive treatment for a rare cancer called sarcoma.
Sechi dropped out of school and began chemotherapy. Last week, her hair began to fall out. She decided to shave it off. So did her boyfriend.
"Beautiful girlfriend is fighting cancer. She got this s***.," writes Nicolay above a now-viral image of the two of them bald and staring into each others eyes.
Nicolay decided to post the photo on Reddit to share their love and bravery with the world. Almost immediately, people started sharing and commenting on the image. In just one day, it has garnered over a million views and countless comments of support and admiration.
The attention has been welcome as Sechi continues her chemotherapy treatment.
"Right after she got diagnosed, she was joking about how she was going to become famous because of it, that she'd be on Ellen and have a blog," says the Overland Park, Kansas native. "When I saw that picture I thought I'd put it on Reddit and tell her, 'I put it on the Internet and you're famous,' so that her joke would be a reality."
"But it got a lot more attention than I thought, so it was a lot more reality than I expected," he adds.
"She's shaving her head and I don't really care about my hair so I'm shaving it with her," Nicolay tells ABC News. "It wasn't an option for me."
What was an option were the different hairstyles they could try along the way. Drawing on that wonderful sense of humour, the couple started playing around with different styles: a Mowhawk, a mullet and a buzz cut before the final shave.
"The mullet was a bit much but with the buzz cut, she looked really good," he says proudly of his girlfriend.
Nicolay and Sechi documented their hair evolution with a series of photos.
Here’s to Sechi’s full recovery, here’s to love, and here’s to the young people of the world who help us continue to believe in both.