Even though Brian and Lachandra Baker married, as they say, "later in life," their marriage so far has been replete with its share of joys and challenges.
As part of StoryCorps COLUMBUS, the couple visited the StoryCorps booth and reminisced on 10 years of marriage: the ups, the downs, and what they’ve learned from each other along the way.
Both agreed that their relationship changed how they understand the world.
"I think it’s interesting too, for the people that are listening, that we are an interracial couple," Lachandra said.
She then asked Brian, "I’m curious, what has opened your eyes to the struggle of African Americans in the United States?"
As a "blue collar guy," Brian admitted he hadn’t thought much about diversity in his everyday life. Marrying Lachandra "opened his eyes" to the lack of representation of African Americans "from working, to promotions, to who sits on the board."
The couple spoke also of their blended family, how they’re raising children from past relationships together.
"I think it’s important for a 2019 family, especially a blended interracial family, to think about how we come together differently," Lachandra said. Both expressed the importance of involved parenting and a strong family unit.
Four years ago, the couple faced a new challenge with Brian’s devastating diagnosis of grade 3 follicular lymphoma. This slow growing and incurable form of cancer, once treated, morphed into a more aggressive but also more treatable form of cancer.
When the new treatment worked, it eradicated the over 20 tumors in Brian’s abdomen. This experience transformed Brian’s life.
"It’s really created a new character for me," he said, before asking how the experience affected Lachandra.
Lachandra couldn’t help but think of their wedding day and the vow "in sickness and in health." She admitted that the "sickness" part entered their marriage sooner than she expected. She remembered hearing the diagnosis and the despair she felt.
"I could see the look on your face and it felt like the wind left the room," Lachandra said. "Four years ago, when you hear the word cancer, you thought death sentence."
The treatment brought Lachandra hope for Brian’s future, though.
"I’m excited that you have another day another week, another year, another month in front of you with this therapy," she said.
For Brian, successfully fighting the cancer meant continuing to be a good father to his parents and leaving behind a legacy that others too, could survive such a diagnosis. He hopes that his story shows others that "just because you have cancer doesn’t mean life stops."
Lachandra and Brian Baker were recorded in the StoryCorps booth during its recent trip to Columbus. To hear more stories from your neighbors, be sure to subscribe to the StoryCorps COLUMBUS podcast on Apple, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.