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South Florida man shares story of love found, life saved all thanks to University of Miami

South Florida man owes University of Miami for saving his life after cancer diagnosis
South Florida man owes University of Miami for saving his life after cancer diagnosis 02:33

MIAMI — Chris Cunningham says he met his wife Jennifer through luck nearly 30 years ago. 

They were just sophomores at the University of Miami. Three months after meeting they were engaged. 

"Chris thinks it was a love at first sight," Jennifer said.

"Well it was for me. Apparently, it wasn't for her," Chris said.

"I think it's a little," Jennifer said. "I just say we are very lucky. Very lucky all of it."

Luck is also why Chris is cancer-free. His wife says his left eye looked different than the other. 

"I said, 'Dude what's wrong with your eye?' And [he] was like, 'What do you mean?'" Jennifer said.

"I was not feeling any physical symptoms at all," Chris said. "I was sick. I was not fatigued. I didn't have any pain."

But, he did have a cluster of cells behind his eye. A surgeon removed half of it, and then the Cunninghams were referred back to where they first met: the U.

Dr. Ney Alves is their oncologist at UM's Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. He diagnosed Chris with a rare type of lymphoma, called MALT lymphoma. He had to do several tests on Chris, including his bone marrow, since he says the cancer can spread. 

He says they were lucky to have spotted it at an early stage since he says there aren't always clear signs of this type of cancer. 

"Patients picked up diagnosed at an early stage have an excellent prognosis," Alves said. "Chances of cure and chances of long-term survival are excellent." 

Chris went through fifteen sessions of radiation therapy in three weeks, finishing up in December. In March of this year, he became cancer-free.

"It gave us my education," Chris said. "It gave me my life. It gave me love. And it saved my life." 

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