Strong together … Bride Kim Wiggins with sister Kristie Hardy, left, best friend Tobi Best and wedding planner Lisa Cohen, right. Photo: Bradley Patrick/SugarLove WeddingsThree women in this photo have been dealt a cruel genetic blow: they’ve all inherited a predisposition to breast cancer.
But all three have taken control of their health by opting for double mastectomies, and all talk of cancer and surgery disappeared over the weekend as they banded together to celebrate a wedding – as well as a joyful and imminent birth.
Bride Kim Wiggins was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. Her father and aunt died of cancer, and her doctors were immediately suspicious she had the BRCA gene. Testing confirmed she did.
As she prepared for treatment and doctors scrabbled to preserve her fertility by harvesting her eggs, her sister Kristie Hardy had to consider whether she too should be tested.
The devastating confirmation that Kristie also carried the BRCA gene came when she was four months pregnant with her fourth child. Eight weeks after he was born she underwent a preventive mastectomy.
Kim also underwent a double mastectomy, removing the breast affected by cancer, as well as the other breast, which carried a higher risk of cancer developing. Her surgery was followed by an exhausting round of chemotherapy.
But this year has been a far more positive one for the sisters. Kim is cancer-free following her treatment, and over the weekend married the love of her life, Kelvin Wiggins, in an emotional ceremony in Sydney.
Grateful for the foresight of the doctors who salvaged her fertility at a time when she was in too much shock about her breast cancer diagnosis to think that far ahead, she also awaits the birth of her first child next month – a joy made possible by one of her best friends, Tobi Best, offering to become a gestational surrogate.
Meanwhile, a chance meeting with Canberra wedding planner Lisa Cohen ensured financial pressures on the couple to pull off an elegant wedding celebration were eased.
Lisa operates Cre8tive Cakes and Weddings with Wow with her partner, Deb Mackie.
She met Kim and Kristie in Sydney’s Mater Hospital a few weeks ago when the sisters were undergoing reconstructive surgery. Lisa was having a preventative mastectomy due to her own genetic risks of developing breast cancer and pre-existing breast abnormalities which had plagued her adult life.
”Kim mentioned to me they were planning a wedding but money was tight and her mum was going off to Bunnings to buy some lights to try and jazz it up a bit. I was so speechless to hear the girls’ story, then I was immediately determined to jump in and help. I feel an enormous bond with these girls and I couldn’t not be part of this day.”
Despite only leaving hospital last Monday following a complication from her surgery, Lisa was on hand by the end of the week to ensure the decorations were just right for the wedding.
”I desperately wanted to make the cake, but I can’t lift my arms and I just had to admit it was beyond me at the moment.”
Lisa was also overwhelmed with offers of help to style the wedding, and her friend Ashleigh Dean loaded her car with decorations and drove to Sydney to do all the heavy lifting.
Describing her own decision to opt for a mastectomy as ”the best thing I have ever done because it has lifted such a weight of worry off my shoulders,” Lisa said the wedding day was a perfect illustration of how breast cancer could be beaten – or, hopefully, avoided altogether.
”It is a wonderful, positive story of taking control and moving forward without fear for all three of us.”
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.