"I was just happy and grateful, because three years ago, we wouldn't have thought of this becoming a reality," she said.
Viktoria Cupay and Nick Baldo's relationship stood the test of time. Three years after Cupay was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, the couple finally got married in Chicago. The two first met in April 2018 at Temple, a nightclub in San Francisco. Viktoria made the first move and asked him to dance with her. Later, Nick asked for her number, but she was hesitant to share it as she was visiting. When he clarified that he also hails from Chicago and will be visiting in two weeks, she gave him her number. That's how their relationship kickstarted. After that, they kept visiting each other for weeks.
In August 2018, Cupay opened up to him that she had been diagnosed with Lupus, an autoimmune disease two years ago. But this did not stop Baldo from dating her. All he could think of "was Viktoria is so wonderful and beautiful, whatever that means, it won’t get in the way of things,” he told New York Times. They hit a roadblock in 2019. Cupay had a fever and was admitted to the hospital. "My mom brought me to the emergency room because I had a fever but we were just thinking it was just another lupus flare-up," Cupay said, as per Good Morning America.
"I started developing blisters, and that's when the doctors diagnosed me with Stevens-Johnson Syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis," she added. Stevens-Johnson syndrome, or SJS, and toxic epidermal necrolysis are severe diseases where skin tissue starts to die and detach from the body. Toxic epidermal necrolysis, or TEN, is considered a more severe form of SJS. The symptoms include fever, body aches, and red or purple rashes that can blister, peel, and turn painful.
Baldon took a flight as soon as he came to know that she was admitted to the hospital. He was there with her when the doctors gave the diagnosis. Her condition became severe and the doctors medically induced a coma and were unsure if she will survive. Meanwhile, she went through three surgeries including a tracheostomy to help her breathe and surgery for a gastrostomy tube to help her eat. That's when Baldo realized that no matter what happens, he will be there by her side. “She would have a long road to recovery and I wanted her to know I would be there,” he said.
While she was in her coma, Baldo asked for approval from her mother to propose. Once she gained consciousness, Baldo proposed to her. "It was just my mom and Nick and the musical therapist at the time," Cupay reminisced. "I was just surprised because, at that time when I woke up from a coma, they handed me a mirror because I didn't know what was going on. And so when I looked at myself, I didn't look like me. I lost so much weight already. My skin looked different because it fell off pretty much ... I did not look like myself at all."
Cupay was in the hospital for 240 days and she was able to undergo it due to the support from her mother and then-boyfriend Nick. “I had to learn how to walk, talk and eat again,” she said. “I was totally dependent on other people,” said Cupay.
Exactly three years after the engagement on August 19, 2022, Cupay and Baldo got married at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Chicago. "We chose the date for a reason because we wanted to look back on that day with pure happiness from now on," Cupay said. "I was just happy — happy and grateful, is all I could say because three years ago, we wouldn't have thought of this becoming a reality."
“It was a bittersweet day,” Baldo said thinking about the circumstances under which their engagement happened. “Now, we will look back with nothing but pure happiness on that day.”
"I'm happy again that I'm able to live a second life, celebrate love, celebrate our recovery, second chances, and the love of my family," she added. Cuppa recovered from SJS/TEN but still lives with lupus. "Looking back at it, it's crazy how far I've come. I'm in awe as well," Cupay said. "That's why I want to share my story because I have been there, I have been at the lowest point in my life and I'm hoping that when someone hears this story, it might be the story that they needed to hear to keep going as well."
Cover Image Sources: Instagram | JustViktoria03 YouTube screenshot/ GMA