Love conquers all: Planning a destination wedding - getting back on track
01 Aug 2018
Following her heartbreaking diagnosis, bridal blogger Becki Morphus continues her story and postponed wedding journey
As Gary and I flew back to Spain at the end of my cancer treatment in February 2018, I was still feeling weak and suffering from the radiotherapy burns, but I couldn’t wait to be able to celebrate the end of such an awful eight months, embrace our new lives in Spain and start planning our 2019 dream beach wedding in La Manga.
My approach to my recovery was to take the view that the bad times were finally over and the good times could now begin. However, Gary, who had stayed strong throughout the treatment to support us, was now the one appeared to be struggling emotionally. At a time of supposed celebration, he seemed uptight, snappy and angry with the world. He didn’t even seem as excited about the wedding anymore and this really upset me, as I couldn’t understand why.
After a few weeks of trying to talk to him about this and him remaining emotionally distant from me, he finally disclosed that he was suffering from anxiety, linked to his fear of the cancer returning, or of himself or another of our loved ones also being diagnosed. He explained that, before my experience, he hadn’t really known much about cancer, but through accompanying me to my consultations and treatment and by reading other research, he now knew more than he ever wished to, and it was constantly on his mind and affecting his wellbeing.
He had also felt embarrassed to admit that he was struggling mentally and emotionally which is why he hadn’t felt able to talk about it, but he knew he had to, if it wasn’t to negatively affect our relationship. I just felt relieved at this point that we had identified the problem and could start to work together to resolve it, as the fact he hadn’t been opening up to me meant that I had even started worrying that he may have changed his mind about marrying me (which he now assured me wasn’t the case).
It is a sad fact of cancer that when you are undergoing treatment, you are surrounded by death and illness, sadness and hopelessness; you hear about cancer everywhere, on the TV, in the hospital and from well-meaning friends and acquaintances and this all definitely plays havoc with your mind. Whilst attending my chemotherapy sessions with Gary, we had got talking to another couple in the chemo unit. The wife, who was only in her late 30s and had a nine-year-old daughter, had previously had breast cancer, but had recently been told that the cancer had returned and had spread to her bones. Her diagnosis was terminal and she had been told to expect not to live more than a year, even with the chemo that she was now undergoing, in an attempt to try and extend her life expectancy.
She and her husband explained how they had made their little girl a ‘Mummy’s Memory Box’ so that she didn’t forget her mum in years to come and how they were planning a last family holiday to Euro Disney in France before she deteriorated. It was heart-breaking to hear and yet they were so brave in their approach to the situation, determined to make the most of the time she had left. Gary and I had even had a little cry on their behalf, after hearing their story, so I could totally understand his anxiety about the cancer returning, as we had been told that if it did, it would not be curable, only manageable, just like in the couple’s situation.
Once Gary was able to share his anxiety issues, we talked for hours about the impact of cancer and how we would overcome the worries together, such as Gary taking herbal relaxation medicine, us pledging that for every bad story we heard, we would find eight positive stories of people in long-term remission (in line with the 80% success rate of treatment in my case, as it’s very easy to catastrophize and only listen to the worst cases, which doesn’t give a balanced view) and that we would ensure we continue to have open communication so we understood each other and were working together as a team and not separately.
We also agreed that we were so fortunate in not having to face a terminal diagnosis ourselves, my prognosis was goodand there was no reason for this to change, so we should appreciate each other and our lives and should ensure we spent quality time together and with our families, doing activities that we enjoyed and that made us happy. Otherwise it’s too easy to get bogged down in the humdrum side of life and life’s too short for that.
After this talk, things gradually started to improve and we could finally start thinking about planning the wedding. I felt a bit overwhelmed about where to start but found the planning tools on the bridemagazine.co.uk website really helpful and the Wedding To- do List was even time-lined, so I knew the first priorities at the 12 month point before the wedding were to find the venue, book a wedding planner and celebrant to perform the ceremony and to find a photographer who suited our desired style.
We visited three venues in La Manga and chose the beautiful Area Sunset on the La Manga Del Mar Menor strip (which means ‘sleeve of the little sea’). One of the major plus-points with Area Sunset is that there is an all-inclusive wedding planner attached to the venue, who organizses everything from the flowers and decorations to the catering, according to taste, which means far less stress for me. She also recommended a local photographer and after, sharing examples of his work with my photographer sister Kathy (who I want as a bridesmaid at my wedding, so sadly she can’t also be my photographer) and meeting with him and the wedding planner, the photographer was also confirmed.
Finally, I felt that we were getting somewhere and now the major elements were booked. With the details to be decided at a later date, we could now enjoy time with our family and friends who were all booked to fly out and visit on a rota basis between March and July... which ended up being quite a military operation and very manic. We had a lovely few months though, celebrating the end of the cancer treatment and hosting in our new second home, enjoying quality time together. However, before I knew it, there was only 11 months until the wedding and I knew we would need to start progressing the finer details of the wedding very soon. First on the list was to find my ideal wedding dress, which would be quite a feat given that I had put on weight with the cancer treatment and had yet to regain my beach wedding body.
To be continued: In my next instalment, out in September, I detail more of the wedding planning process, report on trying to find my dream wedding dress, outline my journey in trying to regain my beach wedding body and reflect on ongoing health issues occurring as a result of the cancer and treatment.