Most of us have seen Channel 4's hit show First Dates before.

The unique show captures the first dates of couples at the Paternoster Chop House restaurant in London and is watched by millions of viewers on TV.

It is considered easy viewing by many, full of laughs and often some cringey moments. 

But watching Julian Fiano on popular Channel 4 show First Dates, Lucy Docherty felt drawn to him and knew she wanted to get to know him.

“He had something about him that gave me a strong feeling I wanted him in my life,” she said.

But it wasn’t a light-hearted crush, for Lucy knew Julian, 32, had terminal brain cancer.


He touched the nation’s hearts as he told his TV date that he’d been given nine to 12 months to live.

He was diagnosed with a glioblastoma - the most common aggressive brain tumour in adults – four years ago.

Lucy, 30, from Colchester, “felt compelled” to get in touch with him, and they became a couple.

“Our relationship has progressed to a level maybe neither of us expected,” she said.

“Now we live together and he’s my best friend as well as my partner.”

Despite her family’s concerns, Lucy said she is “happier than I’ve ever been”.

The couple have recently started discussing potentially having a baby.

“We both love children and having a family is something we both want from life,” said Lucy, who writes a blog with Julian.

“Julian had his sperm frozen before he had chemotherapy, so it may be possible we can have a baby.”

Julian became ill in 2016 when he was working as a youth coach and began suffering severe headaches and numbness on his left side.


After having scans, he was diagnosed with a glioblastoma and given just nine to 12 months to live.

He underwent a craniotomy to remove the tumour, as well as undergoing radiotherapy and chemotherapy.

Since then, he’s had two more operations and chemotherapy due to his tumour growing back.

The couple had their own first date in January 2019 – a steak dinner in Lucy’s home town Colchester.

In May 2019, a five-day trip to the Isle of Wight proved a turning point.

“We talked for hours and I reassured him I knew what I was getting into,” said Lucy.

“I told him I’d fallen for him and wasn’t going anywhere just because things might not always be simple, and that I knew there would be difficult, challenging times. We told each other we were in this together.”

As their relationship deepened, Lucy saw Julian’s vulnerable side.

“When he has his bad days, I just listen to what he’s going through. I can’t say, ‘Everything’s going to be OK,’ because it isn’t,” said Lucy.

“But I can listen to him and be with him in how he’s feeling.

“We had to learn to be very honest with each other right from the beginning.”

Lucy’s way of coping is to be fully informed and involved.

“It’s not easy because cancer is always there – like the third person in our relationship - and we have to take it day by day,”

she said.

“I’m organised and like to have everything planned, but I’ve become more spontaneous now.

“Now I know Julian better, we’ve grown together and we are totally open with each other.

“Coping with his prognosis and challenges is something we do together”

Lucy is sharing her story to help the Brain Tumour Charity raise awareness of its Great Minds campaign, raising funds for research and supporting people living with a brain tumour.

Julian said: “Right after my diagnosis I felt suicidal. I remember lying in my hospital bed and thinking it would be better if I wasn’t here – I didn’t want to be burden to my family and cause them suffering.

“But I changed my perspective and started counting my blessings. It’s taken cancer to make me realise how precious life is and what’s really important – being surrounded by the people I love.

“None of us knows what the future holds, and I can’t just sit around waiting to die. Why shouldn’t I carry on with my life and want the things that everyone else wants?”

For more on the campaign, visit: