LOCUST GROVE, Ga. — It's not uncommon for first dates to be stressful, but one couple is on the path of forging a lasting love after a near-death experience on their first date brought them even closer. The terrifying moment also helped uncover a life-threatening diagnosis.
Jordan Bennett and Zania Robinson's first date was the first of many trials they would face together. The two are still learning about each other. Their first date was hiking up the DeSoto Falls just a few months ago.
"We took pictures, had our first kiss up there. It was a moment," said Zania.
In the midst of the moment, a storm came through and they started to slip.
"Without hesitation, it was just like, go get her. Instinct," said Jordan.
They both fell from the top of the falls. Seriously injured, they had to hike for 30 minutes to get help.
"I kept telling her, repeat after me. "You're brave, you're strong, you've got this,'" said Jordan.
By the time they got to the emergency room, Zania was in critical condition. Her facial injuries were extensive; Jordan fractured both shoulder blades.
"I felt ugly. I didn't like what I looked like anymore. I didn't think he would like me," said Zania.
However, the first time Jordan saw Zania after the fall, he asked her to be his girlfriend.
"She said, 'how do I look?' I said, 'You look beautiful.' Just seeing her that way, it built a bond that won't ever be broken," said Jordan.
While Zania improved, Jordan's mom said he kept getting worse.
"He had lost a lot of weight, it was falling off of him. He didn't have much of an appetite," said Lori Chafin.
Doctors thought he may have ruptured his esophagus in the fall. He said they thought he might have crushed it by the way he fell onto his shoulders.
But the news was much worse.
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"The call came in -- they diagnosed it with advanced stage 3 stomach cancer," said Jordan.
Jordan said it took falling to catch it.
"It's your baby, of course it's hard. I can't help him. I can be there and help with everything else, but I can't take it from him. And that is hard," said Lori.
And Zania has been there too -- taking it step by step.
"I remember Jordan saying, 'you're strong, you're brave, and you got this.' And that really stuck with me," said Zania.
That message -- is now their mantra.
"She does say it all the time, that I'm strong, and I got this. This is your fight," said Jordan.
That fight is just beginning for Jordan.
He has surgery to remove his stomach in March. Doctors will attach his esophagus to his small intestine and he'll be on a feeding tube for the next six to eight months.
But Zania said he'll do it with her at his side.
Jordan's mom started a fundraiser to help the young couple get through the medical challenges. A separate fund was made for Zania.