REAL LIFE

Why strangers paid for our wedding

Their wishes finally came true.
Beth Fernley Photography

After devastating news, everyone rallied to give Mikaila and Harley their dream day.

Here, Mikaila, tells the story in her own words.

Turning the corner holding my dad’s arm, I was blown away. With fairy lights and flowers, my wedding was everything I’d dreamed of. Spotting Harley waiting at the end of the aisle, I cracked a huge smile. Although the day could have been tinged with sadness, we both couldn’t stop beaming. We were finally going to be man and wife.

I’d met Harley five years earlier through my brother, Chris, then 21. As we chatted, I realised how kind he was and we soon started dating. I was only 18 and Harley was 20, but I knew that I’d fallen for him. ‘He is definitely The One,’ I told my bestie, Jade, 19. Then, three months into our relationship, I found out I was pregnant. We hadn’t planned to have a baby this soon but decided to make it work. It was easily the best decision we ever made.

Wow, this is our baby, I thought when our gorgeous Indie arrived in June 2014. Two years later, we welcomed our son, Reef. Life was perfect. Then in September 2016, I felt a sharp pain in my right butt cheek. Reaching down, I was spooked to feel a lump.But after going to the doctors for a scan, they couldn’t detect anything. Putting it to the back of my mind, I got excited about an upcoming cruise with Harley. Setting sail from Sydney, we were on the top deck for sunset when Harley went down on one knee! ‘Mikaila, will you marry me?’ he asked. Tears filled my eyes as I shouted ‘Yes!’ and we kissed.

Me, Reef, Indie and Harley
Me, Reef, Indie and Harley (Credit: Beth Fernley Photography)

The rest of the cruise was spent celebrating and soaking up the sun. But the pain in my buttock hadn’t gone and I was even limping at times. ‘You really need to go to hospital when we get back,’ Harley said. I tried to enjoy myself, but couldn’t shake my worry. Two days after getting home, I went to emergency. By now my lump was the same size as a baseball and I was sent for an ultrasound. Within an hour of getting home, I received a phone call and was told to go to my doctor immediately. ‘It’s a tumour and it’s likely that it’s cancerous,’ he said. Bursting into tears, I ran out to the car where Harley was waiting with the kids. ‘It’s going to be okay,’ Harley soothed as I sobbed, telling him the news. But after a biopsy, we were told something devastating. ‘You’ve got an extremely rare cancer called alveolar soft part sarcoma,’ the doctor revealed. ‘It doesn’t respond to chemo.’ My heart plummeted. ‘How long do I have?’ I asked. ‘I think a few more years,’ he said. I broke down in tears and collapsed from the shock. I was only 21.Just over a week earlier, I’d been celebrating my engagement. Now I’d be leaving Indie and Reef without a mummy and Harley without a wife. How could this have happened?

cancer treatment
Me and Harley during my treatment (Credit: Beth Fernley Photography)

I was put on a combination of medicines, along with a trial drug, which helped to stabilise the cancer. The medicine also led to me losing my hair, which was devastating. Harley and I wanted to get married as soon as possible, it felt like a race against time.

In the run up to our big day, I met with our photographer Beth Fernley. My wig was getting itchy, so I whipped it off and quickly explained my illness.Shocked, Beth said she wanted to help. ‘If you could have your dream wedding, what would you want?’ she said. Then, reaching out on her Facebook page, Beth explained our story and asked if any other wedding businesses could help. The response was overwhelming and offers came flooding in. In the end, everything from the flowers and dress to the catering and venue was donated to us. ‘People are so generous,’ I wept to Harley.

Beth has been an amazing friend!
Beth has been an amazing friend! (Credit: Beth Fernley Photography)

So last month, on a gorgeous summer’s day, I finally got to be a bride. ‘I’m nervous,’ I confessed to my dad, Gary, 50. ‘Don’t be, I’m about to give my baby away,’ he smiled. As we stepped around the corner, I saw the venue had even planted sunflowers, the symbol for sarcoma. ‘You look beautiful,’ Harley whispered to me. Indie and Reef looked so adorable as our flower girl and page boy. Saying ‘I do’, it was the perfect day, full of love.Later in the evening, as we partied with friends and family, it started raining. Grabbing Harley’s hand, we dashed outside and danced in the pouring shower. I felt so carefree and alive.

Our big day was just as I'd dreamed
Our big day was just as I’d dreamed (Credit: Beth Fernley Photography)
I felt so carefree
I felt so carefree (Credit: Beth Fernley Photography)

I’m now doing my best to fight the cancer and make the most of my life.‘Why’s Mummy sick?’ Indie, three, will ask when I can’t get out of bed. While at just one, Reef is too young to understand what’s happening. A recent scan revealed my cancer has spread. But I’m hoping to be put on a new treatment soon. Although I get anxious, I know if I’m going to die, there’s not much I can do about it. For now, I’m focusing on making lots of happy memories with my gorgeous family.

Me and Indie
Me and Indie (Credit: Beth Fernley Photography)

Read more in this week’s issue of that’s life!

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