“Amber, I have some bad news.”
My mom and I had just finished talking about all the adventures Sam was getting into during their camping trip. And then my heart sank and I heard that ugly six letter word….CANCER.
“Danielle has breast cancer.” I was in shock. I went numb. All I could think about was all the history we have with that nasty word. And all I kept saying to myself (and still), “not again.” 28. Just engaged last month. Wedding planning for October.
Danielle is not necessarily blood-related but she might as well be. She’s been my cousin since we were in Kindergarten. To say she’s been through enough is an understatement. Growing up in and out of the foster system along with so many other horrible things she has endured in her life. We’ve been there for each other for the big moments. But in the last few years, God has transformed her heart in a way that is unexplainable…and then she met Josh. The first time Ben (my husband) met him at Thanksgiving last year, he came home and told me that he was sure he was the one for Danielle. And when I met him, I knew too.
After getting engaged last month, she immediately reached out to me and asked me to photograph their wedding and I couldn’t say no! I was overjoyed to document such a journey and story for my sweet sister-friend. Just when we thought this was the only the end of the beginning of a wedding story, everything changed.
Just 2 weeks ago, Danielle was diagnosed with an agressive form of breast cancer and will be starting chemotherapy treatment first thing today. Praising the Lord because all of her scans were clear which means it’s not in her lymph nodes and hasn’t spread anywhere else besides that one spot. With this fresh news, Josh stepped up. For better or worse. He wanted to make sure she was never alone and knew that he was there to walk through this journey.
So on Friday, July 20th, Danielle and Josh were married in the heart of Chattanooga in front of their closest friends and family members. To say it was emotional is an understatement. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the crowd. The pure joy on their faces as Danielle walked down the aisle was infectious. I couldn’t stop crying and lost it during their portrait time. Yes, it was sad. But it was full of joy and best of all…HOPE.
HOPE that God is still good. HOPE that Danielle would beat this. HOPE that this journey would bring glory to their Creator. After the ceremony, we were all invited to gather around the two and pray over their marriage.
Now, I’ll let Danielle share her heart:
At 28, great health, engaged to be married to the man of your dreams, feeling full of hope and joy, you never expect to hear the word cancer. Friday the 13th that was exactly the word I heard as I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I didn’t hear the words opportunity, faith, trust, blessing, joy, gratitude, support, love, honor, set apart, strength, and endurance. Yet, those are the words I have been washed over with every moment since. I have been blessed with such an incredible, unexplainable, humbling support system and peace that I know without a doubt only comes from my lord and savior Jesus. My Daddy has blessed me in so many ways I never knew possible in such a short amount of time. One of which being the absolute perfect wedding to my incredible man of honor. Don’t worry, we’re still planning on doing the big hoorah in October, but you never know what lies ahead and my amazing *now husband????* wanted to be able to be by my side through it all. There will be more struggles ahead and I know this will not be an easy journey, but I also know that I am in His hands and that’s all that matters.
“And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God.” Job 19:26