SPARTANBURG -- The cancer treatment has made her ill. She is exhausted. Her brain is "fried."
But Janet White smiles.
Reclined on the deck of her Spartanburg condominium, the sun shines on her face as loved ones gather to enjoy what time she has left. White thinks it will be a very long time.
"My life is too good. I love it. I don't want to let it go," she said.
White was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001. She was determined to overcome it. Three young kids needed their mom. She wasn't going anywhere. Her prayers were answered when she went into remission until 2005.
She was battling cancer for a second time when John Kozak asked her out in October 2008. Kozak was a regular customer at Broadway Bagels, the restaurant White and her best friend, Mary Hovelsrud, formerly co-owned.
Kozak liked the bagels, the friendly, welcoming atmosphere and customer service. But it wasn't just the food and atmosphere that kept him coming back. He also liked White.
But Kozak didn't know these weren't normal circumstances. White was in a battle for her life and didn't have time to think about dating, so she turned him down.
"I told him, 'My life's too complicated. You don't need to get involved with me,' " White recalled.
Maybe it was the gentle way White declined to go out with him or maybe Kozak was just a hopeless romantic because he continued coming to the restaurant. He wore her down, so one day she pulled him aside.
"She said, 'Well, I think there's something you should know about me. ... I have breast cancer. I've had it since 2001,' " Kozak remembered.
"When she told me about the cancer, you know, I just kind of responded by, 'Well I don't care. That doesn't bother me. So, you have cancer. I still want to go out to dinner,' " he said.
The two started dating. Things were going along well until several months later, when they discovered they had something else in common. Kozak was diagnosed with cancer on May 5, 2009. The news would have been tragic for most couples, but not for them.
White and Kozak started receiving chemotherapy together. Some people called them the "chemo couple."
They recently were photographed together, and White said people joked about turning the photos into a billboard with the words "love is the answer" or "attitude is everything."
She's done "remarkably well," she said, thanks to her support system of family and friends.
"They didn't expect me to go on this long, which I'm planning on going on a lot longer," she said.
White received her last chemotherapy treatment on April 22 and said, "It's in God's hands."
"Maybe some people would say I'm giving up, but I'm not. I just need time to heal and get strong again and then maybe by then they'll have another miracle drug and I'll try it, you know?" she said.
Kozak also has stage 4 cancer. Like White's, his cancer has metastasized. The man who told her earlier that he wanted to go out with her and didn't care she had cancer is still by her side.
"Even if I didn't have cancer, it still wouldn't matter. I wouldn't change anything. I would still be here doing the same thing," Kozak said.
"To be dating somebody that understands what you're going through is huge," White said.