Laurie + Jessie

The recipients of The Wedding Pink 2017, Laurie and Jessie. We were honored to offer them a silver lining with a beautiful wedding ceremony after enduring a long year of surgeries, doctor appointments, chemo and radiation.

Laurie and Jessie tied the knot on May 18 at the Evergreen Lake House.

How has your life recently been touched by breast cancer?

I was diagnosed in December 2015 with Stage IIIb invasive lobular carcinoma. I underwent 16 rounds of chemotherapy from January-May 2016. After I completed chemo, I had a bilateral mastectomy, and I had tissue expanders placed during that surgery (June 2016). Since my surgery, I have landed back in the hospital 3 times with a recurring infection around one of the expanders. I will require surgery to remove it. I have also completed 33 rounds of radiation, and will begin 6 months of oral chemotherapy within the next month.

It's been a challenging year, but there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Tell us about yourselves.

We met in 2014 at a work meeting. Jessie lived in Lexington, KY, and I lived in Cleveland, OH. After we started communicating and subsequently dating, we started traveling back and forth each weekend to Lexington and Cleveland, respectively (5 hours each way). I have 3 young children, so Jessie would come up on the weekends that I had them, and I would go to Lexington on the weekends I didn't have them. We did this for a year, trying to squeeze every last second out of our limited time together. There were times when Jessie would leave Cleveland at 2 am on Monday morning, and drive to Lexington to drop off her dog, and then drive another 30 minutes to her job and work all day just so we could have another night together.

After a year of traveling back and forth (and a lot of lost sleep!), I finally convinced Jessie to move to Cleveland. She interviewed for a new job, and landed it on the first try! I was so proud of her! When it was time to make the move, she packed up her entire house in one night, and headed north!

We finally felt like we could settle in and really start our lives together after a year of insane travel, single parenting (on my part), and a LOT of FaceTime conversations. But only one month after she moved in, my company downsized, and my position was eliminated. So Jessie moved in with me, and I lost my job in a matter of 30 days. Not exactly the start we were anticipating for our new life together.

But, I thought "I'm a relatively bright woman with a lot of experience and an advanced degree....getting a new job shouldn't take too long." Well.....

While I was in the midst of my job search, I started noticing that my left breast was hardening. It wasn't the traditional lump that we always hear about. Also, I had just had a mammogram 6 months earlier that was "negative." But breasts aren't supposed to be hard, and I decided to get it checked out.

The mammogram was again "negative." But I had a radiologist who was persistent. She, too, recognized that something was clearly wrong, so she called for an ultrasound. That was inconclusive. So she ordered a biopsy. I was diagnosed with invasive lobular carcinoma in December, three months after Jessie moved to Cleveland to be with me, two months after I lost my job, and 4 days after Christmas.

Jessie had changed jobs, sold her house, moved to a city where she knew nobody by me, and become a step-parent to my three children....and now I had cancer. I had spent all of 2015 being a single parent, I had traveled a lot for work, I had traveled back and forth to Lexington to see Jessie, I had Jessie move in with me and my children, I had lost my job....and now I had cancer.

Wait, what?

When we met with my care team in January, I was told that my treatment would last 12-18 months (18 more likely), and that I should really focus on my health and not worry about the job situation. Well, being the only support for my children, that didn't seem like a realistic option. So Jessie stepped in again and helped take care of all of us until I was approved for disability.

She has been my rock through every single step of my cancer experience. We have done everything in our power to make lemonade out of the lemons we've been handed. Throughout this entire situation, our love has been tested and strengthened, and I know that I would not have made it this far without her love and support.

She is my best friend. We laugh together, love together, cry together, and dream together. She is my rock and my wings. I would love to be able to have a beautiful wedding with her to celebrate all we have endured and accomplished.

How did you meet?

We met through our jobs. We both worked for the same company, and I traveled a lot for my job. I met her when we had to collaborate on a project in Lexington, KY. I thought Jessie was beautiful the moment I laid eyes on her, but I didn't know if she was interested or available. I found out later from a colleague that she was indeed interested.