The following was written by Ben, the groom of The Wedding Pink 2013. Since Erin recently shared her journey with us we felt it was appropriate for Ben to tell us his experience.
It was a beautiful fall day in early October when I received the call, a call that would alter everything. Erin had cancer. The most important person in the world to me had a potentially serious illness. I remember sitting in my office, listening to her on the phone, stunned by the news, my mind going numb as she spoke. It was as if she were talking to me from the other side of a long, steel tube: the words were there, but it was as if they had an echo to them that made them impossible to decipher. My thoughts raced. Erin was only 27. How did this happen? How could it? Where did the cancer come from? Was it something in the water we drank, or something in the air in our apartment? How would this change our relationship? I knew that I couldn't stay at work at a time like this, and I raced home to be with Erin. But what I saw in her eyes when I arrived home was not hopelessness or despair, but was instead a fiery resolve to defeat this illness, and from that moment on I was with her 100% of the way. We were going to beat this.
For the next six months, my life became about helping to make her well again. I organized her medication and made dosage charts to track when she was to take each of her pills. We stayed in most nights and watched movies. I cooked whatever sounded good to her at the time. I became a semi-professional nurse, and for six months we took the fight to her cancer. And with every doctor’s appointment, and every chemotherapy infusion, I fell more in love with Erin, and admired her courage and her resiliency through it all. I was better and stronger just being around her, and I gained a perspective that few men have at my age.
A year and a half after her last Chemotherapy infusion, Erin came to me with an idea. She had heard about a non-profit in Colorado called the Wedding Pink, which awarded a wedding each year to a couple impacted by breast cancer. She was thrilled about the prospect, and though we were not even engaged at the time, I could see how much she wanted this. I remember reluctantly agreeing to it at the time. After all, there was no way that we were actually going to be the one’s selected for the wedding, I thought. It was out in Colorado, we were here in Virginia. I was sure our story was not as unique or interesting as many of the others that were applying. But the more I looked into the venue and thought about the possibilities, the more excited I became. I was still not confident that we would be selected, until we received a phone call from Cheryl asking us if we wanted to get married in Colorado in May. We said yes, and the wedding planning was on.
With the announcement, we began calling our family and friends, who almost couldn’t believe the news. This was understandable, seeing as how we could hardly believe it ourselves. It didn’t really begin to sink in for me until we were driving from Denver to Palisade to meet Cheryl and our vendors. Neither of us had ever been to Colorado, and the drive was spectacular, unlike anything we had ever seen before. At times it was hard to focus on driving the car because around every turn in the road there was a vista more magnificent than the one before. By the time we arrived in Palisade, we knew that this was going to be the perfect wedding. The venue was fantastic, all of our vendors were very welcoming, and the setting couldn’t be more beautiful. We couldn’t wait for all of our friends and family to get out to Western Colorado to enjoy it with us.
When the date of our wedding actually arrived, everything turned out better than we could have ever possibly imagined. The team at the Wine Country Inn and our wedding planners bent over backwards to take care of our every need. The setup, the decor and the food were all amazing, and we are so thankful for all of our generous vendors who donated their time and services to make sure that our special day was perfect. Everyone loved the assorted candy, the cookies, the horse-drawn carriage rides, the music, the flowers and the photo booth! As one of our dear friends and guests to our wedding put it: “This is the best trip I have ever been on, and I have been to Tibet.” We cannot thank enough everyone who worked so hard to make this event one to remember!
And to Cheryl Ungar, whose vision and initiative created The Wedding Pink, a very special thank you for providing this unparallelled gift to us. We can never truly thank you enough for what you have done for us, and we hope to help you expand and shape your vision for this worthwhile project in the future.