Monday 23 September 2019

Irish man with terminal cancer fulfils dream of marrying 'best friend' and long-term partner

David Smith (34) and Katy Harris with their son Danny on their wedding day.
David Smith (34) and Katy Harris with their son Danny on their wedding day.
The loved-up couple David Smith (34) and Katy Harris.
David Smith (34) and Katy Harris, as they exchanged their views.
David Smith (34) and Katy Harris on their big day.
David Smith (34) and Katy Harris on their big day.

Saskia Murphy

Two newlyweds who had a ‘good luck’ themed wedding after the groom was diagnosed with terminal cancer chose to ignore superstition and get married on Friday 13th – as they said their luck couldn’t get any worse.

David Smith (34) wed Katy Harris after a charity helped them organise the big day – all paid for by well-wishers not known to the couple.

Flowers, a wedding cake, a live band, decorative lucky horseshoes and even a dress were donated by local businesses and members of the public.

The couple, who have a four-year-old son, spoke of their heartache when David was told he had months to live after battling a brain tumour for five years.

The newlyweds, who live in Portadown, County Armargh, met 11 years ago when Katy, who was working in a call centre, cold called David in the hopes of selling a mobile phone contract.

The pair hit it off straightaway, and soon after their first date in Katy’s hometown Manchester, the loved-up young woman gave up her job and moved to Northern Ireland to live with her new partner.

Lorry driver David proposed two years later, but the young couple put aside their wedding plans in a bid to save enough money to buy a house.

But in 2010, David found himself ‘lost’ in his own kitchen and began suffering from severe headaches.

Weeks later MRI scans revealed David had an 11cm-long brain tumour and had to undergo lifesaving surgery.

After a gruelling course of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, the tumour stabilised, but in March this year, after a second operation, David was told the cancer had spread to the other side of his brain and is now terminal.

The couple contacted charity Gift of a Wedding, who appealed to local suppliers for donations of a wedding dress, a photographer, cake, a live band and even organised their big day for them.

The pair decided to tie the knot on Friday 13th  - a day traditionally blighted by superstition and bad luck.

Katy, who cares for her husband full time, said: “We chose to get married on Friday 13th because our luck can’t really get any worse. We’re just living each day at a time at the moment.”

David said: “As soon as I got the diagnosis five years ago I told Katy to go back to England and stop thinking about me. I couldn’t bear the thought of holding her back, but she has stayed by my side since day one.

“At the start, I was at an all-time low. I remember lying on the sofa in the early hours of the morning, I was terrified I was going to die in the bed with Katy.

“I had my first operation in 2010 and the tumour was stable for a while, but in October last year we were told that the cancer had spread, and in March my mum and Katy were told that six months is my limit.

“It is my dying wish to marry Katy. We met when she worked for a call centre. She called me out of the blue and tried to sell me a mobile phone contract and we hit it off straightaway.

“We had our first date in Manchester City Centre. When I met her I thought ‘wow this is brilliant.’ We had so much in common. I loved her straightaway.

“I proposed to Katy nine years ago, but we decided to delay getting married so that we could save up to buy a house.

“The past five years have been very difficult for us all, but Katy has sacrificed so much to care for me. I feel like I have held her back in so many ways. She really is my best friend. If it wasn’t for Katy and our son I would just give up.”

David and Katy got hitched on Friday in a hotel ceremony in Rochdale, Greater Manchester.

The ceremony was attended by 80 close friends and family.

Katy, 34, said: “We don’t know how long we have left together, but it is so important to us that our son Daniel knows that his mummy and daddy loved each other very much.

“When David first got his diagnosis he told me to forget about him. It was just daft, we were already engaged by then and there was no way I would ever leave him.

“Our son Danny has been our light throughout all of this. I want to show him our wedding photos when he gets older and I want him to know how happy we are together.”

Patricia Harrison, founder and chair of Gift of a Wedding, said: "There are no words to describe how honoured we feel when we are asked to create dream wedding days for couples battling terminal illness, who have been given the Gift of a Wedding.

"David and Katy challenged us to create a dream Irish themed wedding, based on a good luck theme. It really was a pleasure to put their day together with the help of some of the UK finest wedding suppliers."

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