Some people wait a lifetime to meet the love of their life and get married. In this story from 2019, one bride knew for quite a while who her future husband would be, but the couple made it official during the most heartbreaking time of their lives.
The woman’s name is Toni Carroll and in 2019 she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer along with progressive heart failure. Her entire life turned upside down, and Carroll, then 25, wasn’t sure how much time she would have left to spend with her loved ones, including her two young children. Thankfully, however, her partner, Jesse Welsh, was there by her side and helped raise her spirits with the surprise of a lifetime: a proposal!
The couple knew that there was no time to waste, so with the help of the ICU staff at The Alfred — the hospital where Carroll was a patient — they got to have their special day.
What’s more, a GoFundMe raised around $8,500 AUD (about $6,000 USD) to help pay for some of Carroll’s medical costs. While in hospital she was hooked up to a heart-lung bypass machine called an ECMO, as well as a heart pump (VAD). The hospital staff worked to manage her heart condition, while she also underwent chemotherapy treatment for stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma.
Despite initially being given just “five to ten” days to live, Carroll managed to pull through, and although she was in the hospital for at least six months, she made a slow recovery to health. Let’s take a look at her incredible story.
Be sure to reach the end of this article to see the full video 🙂
The story about this bride and groom was published on a website called Alfred Health, which documents the whereabouts of patients in the hospital where Carroll was treated. Although her cancer diagnosis was heartbreaking, the couple got to tie the knot in a ceremony located in the chapel of the hospital thanks to much help from the staff in the ICU where she was taken care of.
One of the doctors from the hospital, Dr. Dashiell Ganter, got to witness the outstanding ceremony for himself. He admitted that despite the looming diagnosis that hindered Carroll’s life, the ceremony was beautiful and uniquely special. He explained how serious her condition was when she first arrived at The Alfred:
“Toni was referred to The Alfred from another hospital for treatment of rapidly progressive and potentially fatal heart failure.”
It wasn’t clear why Carroll’s heart had gone into failure, but sadly it wasn’t the only diagnosis she had to battle. Soon after she’d given birth to her second daughter in Dec. 2018, doctors diagnosed her with Hodgkin lymphoma, a type of cancer that originates in the white blood cells. At the time, her situation was dire, but thankfully, she ended up stabilizing. Welsh told Alfred Health:
“From where we started five weeks ago, I was told I’d only have five to ten days with her, now we are married and I can’t ask for anything more.”
Carroll was also over the moon about how her wedding turned out. She said:
“It’s so beautiful, honestly I thought it was going to be small and then it exploded with all this love from everyone, it was perfect, I loved it.”
Two of the hospital staff who helped plan the wedding were Paul Leonard, a patient experience nurse, and Mary Fox, an ICU nurse. Leonard explained, “We sent an email to all ICU staff asking who wanted to get involved, and we got an overwhelming response.” The staff worked for three days and organized everything from homemade cakes, flowers and decorations to a hair and makeup artist.
Jayne Sheldrake, a nurse and ECMO specialist, was in charge of making sure Carroll was moved to the hospital’s chapel safely. She explained:
“There was a large group of people looking after her medical and nursing needs, we had a ‘plan B’ if something changed and we had to stop and come back … Everybody got involved, the team was creative and organised, and we worked together well. Everyone wanted to make the day special for them.”
The couple’s children surrounded them as they took their vows, thanks to the hospital staff who helped them pull off their wedding and make it a day they’ll never forget. Even though everyone was startled by Carroll’s diagnosis and intensive treatment, those that surrounded her during the difficult time did everything they could to make sure that her wedding ceremony was as special and memorable as it could be.
Carroll and Welsh made sure to thank everyone involved in the planning of their wedding. They also received support from the community, including from Welsh’s employer Driveco group. A local business, Boo Boo’s Cafe, also raised over $700 AUD (around $495 USD) for baby supplies. Carroll added:
“People, strangers, can be so generous.”
In Oct. 2019, Carroll appeared on the local radio station 3AW 693 for an interview about how she was doing. The station revealed that thanks to several world firsts in her treatment, Carroll survived and was thriving. She added, “Doing much better, my heart is working much better and I feel healthier.”
What do you think about this couple’s unique ceremony? Have you ever heard of a similar wedding taking place? Let us know and don’t forget to spread the love by passing this video on to your friends and family.