Georgia couple's relationship tested by devastating diagnosis
COLLGE PARK, Ga. - Ernest Morgan says he barely knew his now-wife Drae four years ago, when he sent her a pretty forward text message.
"I said, 'Will you be my angel?' And I've got that text right here," Ernest, says. "She said, 'No, I am not an angel.' And I'm thinking, 'Uh-oh, I came on too strong. I'll never hear from her again!"
WATCH: Love is put to the test over illness
But he did, and soon the quiet Morehouse College police officer and the outgoing HR manager were inseparable.
Each sensed this was it.
"I remember praying that I'd meet someone that I wouldn't have to guess how he feels about me; I would know," says Drae Morgan. "He was so transparent with me, and so loving, and he would tell me how he thought about me that day, and what he went through."
But, about four months into their relationship, Ernest began having strange symptoms.
"I was sitting at work one day and my arm started shaking, and I couldn't control it.," he says.
They went to the emergency department at Piedmont Atlanta Hospital.
"And that's when I got the news, that I had a brain tumor," says Ernest Morgan.
The tumor was a glioblastoma: fast-growing, typically cancerous, hard to treat.
"And that, that, changed our lives," says Drae Morgan.
Within days, Ernest was being prepped for brain surgery, and after that, months of radiation and chemotherapy.
Suddenly, Drae the girlfriend became Ernest's everything.
"I was the information-gatherer, I was the rememberer, remembering everything, getting to the appointments on time," Drae Morgan remembers.
"She was there. She was just there," her husband whispers.
Freda Wall, a physician assistant at the Piedmont Brain Tumor Center, has guided Ernest and Drae through this unknown world of brain cancer.
"I have seen so many couples that fall apart," says Wall. "But, more so, I've seen couples that come together and have an immediate sense of a bond. They recognize, this is a big deal."
Because, as the Morgans would soon learn, a brain tumor and the void in the brain left behind after it's taken out, change a person.
"The person who has loved you, whether it's 3 months or 30 years has suddenly got a different personality," Freda Wall says. "There's always it seems to be a lot of anger and it's not anger like you an I feel. It's a physiological anger that comes from where the brain tumor was."
The tumor affected Ernest emotionally, too.
"When I think about it, and I talk about it, I tear up," he says. "And, by the way, I cry a lot. Because of my surgery."
But, Drae was convinced the foundation they built in the 4 months before Ernest got sick would get them through the storm ahead.
"And some people might think, that's not a lot of time," Drae Morgan says. "Trust me. My heart, my soul knew that this was the man for me. And I had to manage it in my mind, well why would he be this way to me?"
After many lows, a high point. Two months into his treatment, Ernest, now bald and weak from the chemotherapy, asked Drae to marry him.
"So, honestly, when he went down on his knee, I thought he was falling," Drae Morgan says. " Remember he was weak! So, I dropped down with him. And (he pulled out) the ring, and I'm screaming!"
Four years later, they're still together. Turns out Ernest Morgan got the angel he'd been looking for.
Now 56, Ernest has outlived his initial prognosis by two years.
He returns to Piedmont's Brain Tumor Center every four months for an MRI.
So far, he says, he's feeling good.