A man who met the love of his life five days after being diagnosed with incurable cancer has thanked his “best friend” for standing by his side through thick and thin.

Dan Anderson, from Rochester, Kent, was just 44 when he was diagnosed with myeloma on October 29, 2019, an incurable blood cancer which claims the lives of 3,000 people each year in the UK.

Despite being in the early stages of chemotherapy, five days later, on November 3, he decided to take a leap of faith and went on his very first date with his now-partner Stacey Bazdar.

The couple, who celebrated their second anniversary this month, have been battling the disease together ever since.

“She’s been an absolute rock during this crazy time in my life that I never thought I’d have to go through,” said Dan, now 46. “A lot of people would have turned their back on it. It’s crazy to think I was diagnosed on a Tuesday and we had our first date that Sunday,” recalled Dan, who works as sales support manager at ExCel London.

“I was starting chemotherapy, I had all these steroid drugs but she showed up in abundance, embraced it and supported me. We had been speaking for about four weeks before we met and I had been transparent about it all. I could tell what a kind heart she had. She was so understanding.”

From the off, the pair swore never to allow Dan’s cancer to take over their lives or get in the way of their blossoming relationship.

“Yes, there were times when I was in hospital getting my stem cell transplant and going through chemo but we didn’t let it be the focus of our relationship,” he went on. “It was just something we had to go through there and then to get to the other side. Stacey is such a happy and positive person. We would be in the hospital waiting room laughing, smiling and telling jokes. Some people were looking at us like, ‘Is it the right way to deal with it?’, but for us it was. We didn’t want it to take over so we just got on with it.”

A fit and active man, Dan knew something was amiss when, “out of nowhere”, he started experiencing persistent aches and pains in his chest in June 2019. Doctors were stumped. It took three months and a battery of tests to pinpoint the cause of his baffling symptoms. He had undiagnosed blood cancer, which had caused one of his ribs to snap.

“I hurt and I just knew something wasn’t right,” he explained. “The pain just happened out of nowhere. The thing with myeloma is that it’s an invisible illness: there’s no tumour or lump you can feel in your body. After going through all these tests finding out what it was wasn’t as much of a shock because I already knew something was wrong. I’m a headstrong, positive person anyway.”

Dan started treatment straightaway but unfortunately caught pneumonia while undergoing chemotherapy. His stem cell transplant also had to be postponed due to COVID. It was eventually rescheduled, and he received the life-saving procedure at King’s College Hospital in June 2020.

“The four weeks I spent in hospital were difficult,” he said. “I didn’t look very well and I felt down about it. I lost a stone in three weeks, my beard disappeared. I didn’t realise how much my body was going to physically have to go through to get better again.”

Through it all Stacey, 36, from Sutton, South London, stuck by side, stoically taking every new course of treatment and the occasional setback in her stride.

“Stacey showed up for me when I needed her and it was probably very hard on her,” he said. “The chemo completely changed the way I looked for a good few months but Stacey kept saying to me it was only temporary and it was all going to come back – and of course it has. She just made me think about it logically. People forget about partners and family. It’s all very well that we go through this kind of illness but your partner and family all go through it as well – whether they’re vocal about it or try not to show their emotions.”

Thankfully Dan is now in remission.

Myeloma occurs in the bone marrow and currently affects over 24,000 people in the UK. Despite being the third most common type of blood cancer, it is especially difficult to detect as symptoms, including back pain, easily broken bones, fatigue and recurring infection, are often linked to general ageing or minor conditions.

While it is incurable, myeloma is treatable in the majority of cases. Treatment is aimed at controlling the disease, relieving the complications and symptoms it causes, and extending and improving patients’ quality of life.

More than half of patients face a wait of over five months to receive the right diagnosis and around a third are diagnosed through an emergency route. By that point, many of them are experiencing severe or life-threatening symptoms.

In a bid to thank Stacey for her unflagging support and unconditional love, last year Dan took part in Myeloma UK’s Myeloma Stars campaign and dedicated a star to his “best friend”.

His dedication read: “No matter where you are in life there will always be a star from me shining love down on you. The universe brought us together and the stars would have been looking down on us. Thank you for loving me. I will always love you and our connection. You are my star.”

Dan is now encouraging others to join him in supporting Myeloma UK this Christmas by dedicating a star to a loved one and making a donation. Anyone can dedicate a star for as little as £1 and help fund vital research into treatment and a possible cure.

“It’s an easy way to support Myeloma UK. Yes, we could all run or walk but dedicating a star is a personal thing and we all have someone to thank for something. I sent Stacey the dedication: she thought it was a beautiful thing to do. I just wanted to thank her: it’s a big thing for anyone to take on. She showed me what a beautiful soul she had and what a beautiful person she was. I was fortunate to meet someone who is so strong and willing to deal with all this.”

To dedicate a star to a loved one and support Myeloma UK head to