Like any happily married couple, James and Connie McCormick keep scrapbooks and photo albums.
Among their most cherished Kodak moments: A two-day cruise to Ensenada, Mexico, a weekend at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk and a trip to Oregon.
"Our goal is to make memories, no matter how long or short we have," Connie said.
Long or short because she is fighting cancer for the fourth time and has outlived her doctor's prediction by several months.
James, meanwhile, has four types of cancer, all forms of lymphoma.
So time is precious and meant to be enjoyed, not wasted or fretted over.
"Some things you face you have no control over," Connie said. "Cancer is one of them."
She's 49. He's 42. Theirs is a story of love and chemotherapy. Of love and radiation. Of love and, well, love. And it's a story of a couple who simply refuse to be mired in the doom and gloom of diagnoses and treatments along with inevitable financial woes.
They don't worry about their future. They simply appreciate yesterday, today and see what tomorrow will bring.
Connie survived breast cancer in 1997, ovarian cancer in 2000 and uterine cancer in 2001. She was pronounced cancer-free after each.
The McCormicks met during her third cancer recovery, long before James was diagnosed.
"I was attending a singles group at Calvary Chapel," James said. "People in the church were taking meals to her. I didn't know her, but I knew how to cook. So I took food to her."
OK, he didn't cook that first meal. He brought Chinese takeout. He kept coming back, and friendship soon turned into a relationship.
He proposed Jan. 14, 2004. When they were married on Aug. 14 of that year, they set the wedding time at 1:14 p.m. to commemorate the proposal date.
A schoolteacher in Manteca, Connie had continued to teach throughout her illnesses, taking time off only for procedures, recoveries and treatments.
The first few years of their marriage offered hope of a long and happy life together.
But in March, her cancer returned in the form of metastasized breast cancer. It has spread to her bones, and she has lesions on her brain and liver, although chemo has slowed the spread of the disease. In April, doctors told her she probably wouldn't survive 2009.
"They gave her six months to a year to live," her husband said.
Yet, here she is, still going as vigorously as she can and working to build those memories. All of this they describe in periodic newsletters they send to family and friends.
A disabled veteran, James worked as a cook and as a driver for the county's mental health system. Two years ago, he began feeling pain in his ribs. His doctor found nothing. Then he developed a growth on his chest and scheduled surgery to have it removed. He decided to go to the veterans' hospital for a second opinion, and a doctor there discovered his various cancers.
"When my sister found out I had cancer, too, she said, 'You two don't have to do everything together,' " James said.
"Those with cancer together stay together," he said.
She gets chemotherapy every week. He gets it every three weeks. They have their treatments together, always on Tuesdays.
"Our chemo day," James said. "She's made me face mine better. I have her to talk to. She's been through it. I've had the support of her being for me, and being there to talk to makes it easier."
Their home in north Modesto is worth about half of what they paid for it. He receives about $700 a month in disability and veterans benefits. She is on catastrophic leave from her teaching job, which pays her full salary or close to it. But that will run out in May.
Meanwhile, co-pays during her last hospital stay topped $1,000. They've cashed out an IRA while trying to stay current on their bills.
"I fully expect we'll lose our home," Connie said.
Compared to everything else they face, though, home ownership isn't that important, James said.
"We don't know now much time we have together," he said. "It doesn't mean so much if we lose the house. We're together, and that's what matters."
They rely on their faith and their love.
"It's God's timing, and a matter of accepting it," James said. "The Bible basically says nothing happens without a reason. You'll face trials and tribulations. We have God and we have each other."
And an album of memories that, despite the odds and doctors' dour predictions, keeps growing.
Jeff Jardine's column appears Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays in Local News. He can be reached at 578-2383 or firstname.lastname@example.org.