Nurses Inspire Bride With Terminal Cancer to Continue Treatment After Throwing Her a Wedding

Nurses never anticipated a full-blown wedding to come out of what began as a few kind words to this mother-of-three battling stage 4 cancer.

Nurses never anticipated a full-blown wedding to come out of what began as a few kind words for this mother-of-three, who is battling terminal cancer.

Ashley Shipley-Lovekamp, a nurse at the Memorial Medical Center in Springfield, Illnois, told she gave Destini Schafer, 24, her first round of chemotherapy three weeks ago, just days after she was first diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer.

“When I came back, she just looked like she was not doing well at all,” Shipley-Lovekamp said.

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Shafer was in more pain than expected after her first round of chemo. She was fatigued and could hardly eat. The mother of three was also rapidly losing weight.

"She wasn't planning on doing chemo again," Shipley-Lovekamp said. "They decided to make her DNR (do not resuscitate) and talk to her about hospice care."

To cheer her up, she decided to ask about the wedding: “I was trying to figure out something for her that would keep her mind off what she was going through, and give her some other things to think about besides chemo, or her cancer.”

Shipley-Lovekamp said she knew that Shafer was engaged, and originally planned to elope with Brandon Thomas, 31, in Jamaica, but when the nurse asked whether that was still the plan, Shafer replied that “she didn’t want to get married because of the financial burden she would leave behind.”

“We’ve had small ceremonies on the floor before,” the nurse told Shafer, “if that’s what you want, let me know and we can get you a small ceremony.”

Shipley-Lovekamp told that they had first started planning the intimate ceremony last Monday.

By Friday, the couple had a full-blown wedding.

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The oncology nurse, who had been working at the Memorial Medical Center for four years, began getting the word out to other nurses on the floor. She had originally planned to reserve a small conference room for close friends and family to watch.

But she said that after letting the other nurses know, “it kind of snowballed from there.”

Within days, they reached out to florists, jewelry shops and tuxedo stores, who all offered to donate to the wedding.

Shafer and Thomas even posted an impromptu invitation on Facebook, asking any of their friends who were interested to attend.

On the big day, Shafer walked down the aisle of the hospital courtyard, where she was joined by her bridesmaid, Thomas’ sister. 

Thomas and his father, the best man, waited patiently at the end of the aisle.

Shafer's two children, Isabella, 3, and Jacob, 5 as well as Thomas' daughter, 7, acted as the ring bearer and flower girls for the event. The couple's 8-month-old baby also bore witness to the big day.

After the ceremony in the hospital's courtyard, often under the watchful eyes of patients peeking out the windows, Shafer and Thomas' friends and family joined them at a reception in a larger conference room, where they enjoyed appetizers and punch donated by the hospital.

"The weather was beautiful, the sun was shining," Shipley-Lovekamp said, "it couldn't have been a more perfect day."

On the Wednesday following the wedding, Shipley-Lovekamp said that the bride has since felt positive enough to accept a second round of chemotherapy.

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"As heartbreaking as it is, I see a lot of young people and you want the best for them," she told "She's got three kids to live for. I want her to have quality of life, to be able to do things with her kids."

Her husband, Thomas, has since put together a GoFundMe page to support his wife and their families expenses during this time. 

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