Halifax mum’s dying wedding wish

Karen Garner
Karen Garner

A dying Halifax mum given just months left to live will make an emotional journey down the aisle when she marries her fiancee before Christmas.

Karen Garner was diagnosed with cancer in February and after gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy sessions was given the all clear in June.

Paul McGuinness and Karen Garner

Paul McGuinness and Karen Garner

But after beginning to feel unwell later in the year, she received the devastating blow that it had returned.

She had terminal stage four cancer of the lungs and brain.

Despite her heartbreaking battle, Karen proposed to her partner of six years, Paul McGuinness, two weeks ago and now friends, family, businesses and kind strangers across Calderdale are rallying round to make sure she has the wedding of her dreams on December 14.

“I said to Paul ‘I’ve been thinking, we know what’s happening, we know what the outcome is, to make you more secure, to make the boys more secure, do you want to get married?” Mum-of-two Karen, 50, said.

“He wouldn’t answer, but the next morning when we got out of bed he asked me If I had read my text messages. I looked at my phone and it just said ‘I would love to marry you’.

“Paul has been my absolute rock through everything that has gone on. He has been so supportive, he gave up work to look after me the first time because I was in hospital for six weeks and he would take the boys to school.

“I’m looking forward to the day, but I’m also petrified. It will be for security for the boys, security for Paul and there will be nice memories for everybody.

“I think everybody will be an emotional wreck on the day, especially me. It’s a lot to take in, it really is a lot to take in.

“It’s going to be such an emotional day and it will be memories for everyone else, I know i’ll take them with me, but it’s not the same.

“People look back at their wedding photographs and I won’t be able to do that.

“It’s getting worse daily, I can’t stand up sometimes. Sometimes I don’t even know my own name, some days I can’t remember how to get out of the bath. but it will give me some peace of mind knowing that I have married Paul before anything happens.

“I wish it was in different circumstances, I really do, but it’s just one of those things isn’t it? It’s for memories for the boys.”

And in what will be a poignant moment, Karen’s 12-year-old twin boys Harrison and Joshua will walk their mum down the aisle on the big day.

The wedding is being coordinated by Karen’s closest friend Adele Jessop through the charity ‘Gift of a Wedding’, which gifts weddings, free of charge, for people with incurable or life-shortening illnesses.

Many have already offered their services for the Winter Wonderland themed wedding, which will be held at the Tower House, Pye Nest, Halifax and a fundraising page has also been set up.

Speaking from her home in Pellon, a tearful Karen said she felt “numb” when doctors broke the agonizing news.

“The best cast scenario, with chemotherapy, is 12 months,” Karen said. “To say that I felt like I had been hit with a locomotive is a bit of an understatement.

“I just felt numb, I don’t know if it’s going to be tomorrow or next week.

“I’m taking each day as it comes, but I am fighting all the way. Everybody is determined that the wedding will go ahead on the 14th.

“Getting the wedding done, the kids, trying to get them on an even keel, that’s what’s keeping me going.

“I said right at the beginning, I want to see the boys turn 13 in June, I don’t want to miss that.

“I just want to thank everybody for being so supportive, I didn’t realise there were so many nice people.

“It’s overwhelming, it makes you realise you have to live life to the full day by day and cherish every moment.

“Live every day as if it’s your last.”

To donate to the fund visit www.gofundme.com/93b95zxw?rcid=e36a096478d54a3fbbcd67a1fcc4a721 or if you can offer any service, email icanhelp@giftofawedding.org.