Bride Diagnosed with Cancer One Day Before Her Wedding

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Bride Diagnosed with Cancer One Day Before Her Wedding
Thu 26-11-2015

A bride got unexpected news before her wedding day, the day before Milly Simmie's wedding, she gathered her six bridesmaids together and gave them some tough news.

"I have just been told I have a rare cancer, and it's probably terminal. Now, we've got mojitos to make, and flowers to arrange."

Looking at some of the inevitably distressed faces, she added: "You can't be like this. We need to crack on with the wedding preparations, here and now."

And then, says Milly, a 29-year-old solicitor from Tonbridge, England, "they set to, like troupers, and did everything".

Milly and her fiance Alastair, a 30-year-old equity broker, had only just received the grim diagnosis that day themselves.

Milly's disease - epithelioid hemangioendothelioma (EHE) - affects the vascular system, and is thought to be responsible for fewer than one per cent of cancers. Tumours can involve liver, lung, bone, lymph node, skin and other soft tissues, and can occur simultaneously at multiple sites.

The bride told STUFF: "Alastair and I had met at university, fallen in love, established our careers, and then he proposed with a ring in 2014, at the Brightling Park Horse Trials. We thought we had landed on our feet."

But three weeks before the wedding, Milly, a keen rider, fell from her horse and broke her collarbone. While being X-rayed in A&E at Tunbridge Wells Hospital in Kent, she mentioned to a consultant that her chest was sore, too, and he arranged a precautionary X-ray.

The following week, as she recovered from surgery to set the broken collarbone, Milly was surprised to get a phone call from one of the hospital's senior radiologists, a friend of her mother's. "Nothing to worry about, but there's something odd about your chest X-ray," he said. "We need to get a CT scan of your chest and abdomen."

A few days later, he called with the results. "We've found 40 small tumours in your lungs and five in your liver," he said. "We don't know what they are. It could be any number of illnesses. It could be cancer."

Milly admits: "Obviously I was upset, but I was also in shock. My wedding was just 10 days away by this point. Alastair just seemed to go into autopilot. He'd get up, go to work, come home, take me to a doctor's appointment, and all the time be worrying about whether the right glasses had been ordered, and if we'd have enough champagne. It was surreal."

Milly was sent for an MRI of her liver, then a needle biopsy, and told the results might not be back before the wedding. She suffered terrible doubts. "I thought, 'If I am not going to live, is it fair to get married?' I was still holding it together in public, but desperately worried and uncertain inside." The couple discussed putting the wedding on hold, but both decided they wanted to go ahead, with their parents' support.

"I called some friends who were junior doctors, and asked them, 'If it is cancer, how long have I got?' One told me, honestly: 'If it is liver and lung cancer, you'll be lucky to see Christmas.' It was hard to hear."

"I remember thinking, 'This wedding is going to be like a funeral, except I can be part of it. The next time I come down the aisle it will be in a coffin.' And when we started saying the vows - in sickness and in health, till death do us part, Alastair really broke down. They were not easy words to say.

Source: STUFF