Some brides agonize over the flowers, the food, the venue, the dress, the photographer, even the shoes they’ll wear their big day. It’s understandable though, every bride hopes that their wedding will be just perfect.
In many ways, Laurin wasn’t like other brides. She didn’t sweat the details, and wasn’t overly concerned with what her guests would think of the affair. No, Laurin just wanted to be able to walk down the aisle and dance with her husband. That was, if she even made it to the big day…
Laurin sat down in front of the bathroom mirror and stared at her face. A white and blue striped towel was draped upon her shoulders. She looked tired, she thought. Unfortunately, being tired wasn’t an option for her, she only had a few weeks before her wedding day.
Her fiance Michael was standing behind her. He was five years older than her, but he hadn’t been through nearly as much as she had. That morning, she had noticed clumps of hair falling out in the shower. It was either she walk down the aisle bald as a cue, or she hoped that the chemo’s effects would wane before the big day. Michael held up the clippers and she nodded. Bald it was…
Michael and Laurin had met on the dating website PlentyOfFish.com, but the beginning stages of their relationship were anything but a fairytale romance. Laurin was no stranger to the hair-removing effects of chemotherapy. When the two South Carolina natives had met three years prior, she had been dealing with Stage 2 breast cancer.
One Tough Lady
Still, at the time, Laurin had already done most of her battling. She was coming to the end of her course of chemotherapy and was waiting for an impending and very necessary double mastectomy. She wanted to show the world how tough she was, so she got professional photos taken of her bald and wearing pink boxing gloves…
The pictures were a gift to herself for having fought so hard through such a difficult time. She figured, if people saw her, the first thing they’d notice was that she was bald. So she might as well own it. One of those photos became her dating profile picture and it was that picture and the smile she wore that captured Michael’s attention.
Love at First Sight
Some initial messages and light flirting turned to hours-long conversations over the phone. A day later and they were meeting for coffee. Michael, in an effort to make her feel more feminine, had his hair cut shorter than hers before they met. Several weeks later, when Laurin came out of her mastectomy, Michael was waiting for her with a bouquet of daisies and some much-needed ibuprofen…
Let’s Get Together
“He was a special guy,” explained Laurin. “I come home from a double mastectomy, and he’s in my room…can’t wait to give me a hug, can’t wait to kiss me.” It was then, as the two sat and talked and helped her recover, that Michael asked Laurin if she was finally ready to make their relationship official.
April of that year saw all of her tests coming back negative. The road to recovery was long, but Michael was right by her side to take her to doctors, treatments, and reconstruction surgeries. Michael’s devotion to Laurin was apparent to anyone with eyes to see and she couldn’t deny her own feelings and appreciation for him any longer…
Over the next few years the happy couple had many adventures together. They went to the Bahamas, Texas, Colorado, Cancun, even the Grand Canyon. Then, they headed all the way up to Niagara Falls. As they stood over the cascading waterfall, Michael got down on one knee and pulled a sapphire ring from his pocket. “Can we keep this party going?” he asked.
Three Years Later
A few emotional moments later and the two of them were engaged. They decided on March 24, three years to the day since they first met at that coffee shop. They began the arduous task of planning for the big day, sent out save-the-dates, picked out flowers, decided on a meal. Then, in August of 2017, Laurin’s oncologist called…
Laurin had battled Stage 2 breast cancer and survived. She and her husband-to-be had been through countless hard times. Now, mere months before her wedding, her breast cancer had returned. Even worse news was the fact that the cancer had metastasized in her bones, liver, and lungs and was now Stage 4.
Not Changing a Thing
“Do you still want to marry me?” she asked as she sat by the phone weeping. Michael replied with an emphatic “Yes, I asked you. We’re not changing anything.” Come Hell or high water, the two lovebirds were going to wed. Laurin’s doctors however, urged them to move up the wedding date. They worried that if they waited too long she may not be able to dance or participate at all…that was if she even lived to see it at all…
The couple ignored the doctors’ advice. They felt that if they moved the date up, if they rushed things, they would be giving in to the cruel twist that fate had so callously dealt them. “For Mike, it felt like we would be giving in to cancer,” explained Laurin, and she was not about to give in to cancer.
By December of 2017, the stubborn cancer had moved into Laurin’s lungs. The doctors, armed with any number of grim prognostications, again urged them to get married as soon as possible. As the chemo raged through her, Laurin began to wonder if they might be right, if she would make it to her wedding day at all…
She thought back to the cancer she had battled before they had met and how she had done so mostly on her own. Now she had Michael, her rock, her lover and companion, the man who had fought with her through thick and thin. With him by her side, she felt she could do anything. In early 2018, Laurin was accepted into a clinical trial. She hoped it would work.
Then March arrived. That morning, Laurin and her bridesmaids got up early to get their makeup done: her newfound hairstyle needed very little fussing over. She had made it to her wedding day and she felt great. She was ready to walk down the aisle and dance the night away with the man of her dreams…
Because she had lost both of her own parents to cancer some years before, Laurin’s brother walked her down the aisle. She and Michael stood before the gathered friends and family who had come from near and far to join them. They were married at a Christian church and because it was an interfaith service, had a close friend who was a rabbi lead the service.
Just as they had planned, Laurin and Michael took to the dance floor to share their first dance as husband and wife. They stood arm in arm, holding each other tight as they swayed along to Ed Sheeran and Beyonce’s “Perfect Duet”. It was a magical night they would remember all their lives, which as it happened, might be a bit longer than they anticipated…
Recently, Laurin Banks took to Facebook to announce: “Scans results are in……..BOTH of the tumors we have been tracking went DOWN! The rest of the Metastatic spots are too small to measure and they are stable! We were able to start cycle 3 today as well!! “Basically…..THE CLINICAL TRIAL IS WORKING!!!!!!!!”
Like most Stage 4 cancer patients, Laurin doesn’t know how long she has on this earth, but she isn’t letting it get her down. “That’s not anything Mike and I want to think about,” she explained. Instead, they plan on continuing their adventures and making everyday count. They’re even going to Italy in September to ring in Laurin’s 30th birthday. Here’s hoping they make it.