The Cancer Patient Wedding: ‘Til Death Do Us Part


“The confrontation with death—and the reprieve from it—makes everything look so precious, so sacred, so beautiful, that I feel more strongly than ever the impulse to love it, to embrace it, to let myself be overwhelmed by it…. Death and its ever-present possibility makes love, passionate love more possible.” Abraham Maslow

How can happiness and trauma be so inextricably linked? Entrepreneurs see the opportunity in tragedy; it’s their version of the bond between love and death. For many Europeans, the chrysanthemum symbolises death, and yet it can also be the promise of love. Human bonding is a mutual, social nurturing of trust and affection. It is connection eternal; one that the loss of the physical cannot break.

Finding love is not the easiest thing in the world. Sometimes even when we think we’ve found it, we somehow come to the realisation that it isn’t. Not the love we thought it was; not the love we want. That’s why most of us don’t end up marrying our first ‘love’ – at some point we understand it to be an infatuation, an ideal, or we learn that we have yet to know the difference between being in love with being in love, and the emotional, physical and spiritual connection that has a solid foundation of unwavering trust, a sense of safety and security and the innate knowing that we would give our life, absolutely – for our one-and-only. The one that has us want to be the best version of ourselves we can be. The one we can automatically find in a room of a hundred people. The one who inspires us to be creative, to be adventurous, to be our authentic self that nobody else ever seemed to see, or understand.

The other half of the self that we didn’t even know was missing until they came along. Life is beautiful. Everything feels complete. And completely how it should be, were you to dream it.

Then cancer arrives.

Unannounced, uninvited and most definitely unwanted.

Like the dark side of how you chose, and attached to each other, it chooses the most important person in the world to you and attaches itself to them.

And so the journey begins. It’s a wind you can’t direct; all you can do is keep trimming the sails.

It’s all doable. A fight you can both take on because as Alex Karras reminds us, toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in the muscles; notwithstanding the muscle with the most endurance – the heart, which is where you both live.

Five hours of chemo via intravenous drip. Go home. Take two chemo tablets morning and night for 21 days. Wash, rinse, repeat for two more cycles. Deal with the nausea, insomnia, fatigue, lack of appetite, loss of energy. Focus on the positives. Speaking about the possibility of death only makes it real, don’t conjure it into existence just talk about the treatments. Be buoyantly uplifted. Come crashing down. Protect them. Let them protect you. Level out. Stay hopeful. Feel catastrophic. Plan a future. Stay in the present. Tread water for months on end while those waves just keep pounding. It’s only water. We’ll be okay because it’s not the water that surrounds a boat that sinks it, it’s the water you allow to get in.

All of it’s a challenge that that resilient heart is more than willing to take on, because love conquers all. It’ll be frightening, it’ll be arduous, it’ll take everything we have – and it’ll be more than worth it when we win in the end.

Only we don’t.

It’s insidious. It’s incurable.

And so is the love.

The commitment to each other is already there. It always has been. To marry each other is the public declaration and celebration of that. Whether luxury, or humbly affordable, the wedding dress plays a key role in letting the world know how devoted, how deeply in love, and how special it is to feel this eternal bond with one another.

Being married to each other is a rite of passage that seals the passing of your beloved to the next world, where you know they’ll be waiting for when you finally arrive. Two souls joined; at last unyearning.

‘Til death us do part is just for now. It’s not forever.