Diedre Sechi is eighteen years old, and in January she was diagnosed with cancer. Her boyfriend, Riley Nicolay is standing by her side and doing everything he can to fight the disease with her. High school sweethearts, Sechi and Nicolay have been together for nearly three years, and he wasn’t about to give up on her.
Last week, the first signs of chemotherapy started to sneak through as Sechi’s hair began to fall out. Rather than gradually lose her hair, Sechi decided to shave it off—and Nicolay said he would do the same.
“She’s shaving her head and I don’t really care about my hair so I’m shaving it with her,” he said. “It wasn’t an option for me [not to].” Together, they fashioned her a mullet and him a Mohawk before finishing off with a buzz cut for them both. Nicolay said he likes the buzz cut on her.
Sechi has a baseball-sized tumor in her stomach, which doctors have diagnosed as a desmoplastic small round cell tumor. It’s a rare form of sarcoma, and doctors hope that by the end of February it will have shrunk from the chemotherapy treatments. If it doesn’t she’ll have to get the tumor surgically removed in Texas.
“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,” said Nicolay. “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 though, so it was a lot more reality than I expected,” he said.
The photo is a simple shot of Sechi and Nicolay looking into each other’s eyes after completing the buzz cuts. Nicolay captioned it, “Beautiful girlfriend is fighting cancer. She got this s***,” and posted it to Reddit on Tuesday, February 12th. By that afternoon, Nicolay’s friends were texting him that the photo was on the front page of Reddit.
“I called her and said, ‘Apparently you’re famous,” Nicolay said.
“This has made it fun so it’s not as scary or sad,” said Nicolay. He’s still standing steadfastly at Sechi’s side, and he’s confident in her ability to overcome her cancer. “She’s such a happy person that she’s been doing well,” he said.