PROVO — A local couple had an impromptu wedding at Utah Valley Hospital a day before the bride's mother died.
Brittney Spencer was set to marry her “best friend,” Ben, on Nov. 10, 2018. But when her mother, Christina Spencer, became ill, they moved the wedding up to Nov. 1.
“After being in remission for almost a year, in March of 2018, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time,” Spencer said. “At that point, it had metastasized into her bones. We were told she would have around five years to live. She began radiation and chemotherapy quickly to try to prolong her life. Meanwhile, Ben and I got engaged in July, and my mom and I spent four months planning and preparing for my wedding.”
On Oct. 30, Christina Spencer was admitted to the Utah Valley Hospital with minor breathing problems. The family initially thought it was pneumonia, but the doctors quickly let them know the cancer had spread to her lungs, Spencer said.
“A few days after my mom was admitted to the hospital and started to deteriorate, one of the doctors told us it would be a good idea to have the wedding sooner than planned and at the hospital," Spencer said. "At that point, my mom was hooked to several machines that were helping her breath, and the doctors and nurses told us it wasn’t going to be possible for her to leave the hospital for our wedding, or ever again.”
Spencer asked the staff at the hospital to help put a quick wedding together so that her mother would be able to see her get married. She said that the “perfect” wedding came together within six hours.
“Because the staff of Utah Valley Hospital truly cared for my mom in her dying days, my mom’s last day of life was one of the most special days of her life," she said. "My mom was so dedicated to her family that she fought to live until my wedding and was able to crawl out of her deathbed to support me and watch me marry my best friend.”
Christina Spencer died just one day after the wedding on Nov. 2.
Spencer said her mother was born and raised in a small town in Mexico before she moving to Utah in her 20s, where she met and married Ronald Spencer. They were married for 32 years, Spencer said.
“The best word to describe my mom is ‘fighter’,” she said. “If you had met her a few weeks before she died, you wouldn’t have known she was sick because she didn’t let it show and refused to let it define her. She battled breast cancer twice. She also always saw the positive in everything and touched the lives of all those she came in contact with. I miss her and will continue to miss her more than words can ever convey.”
The day after Christina Spencer’s funeral, there was a reception to celebrate Brittney and her new husband. Spencer said that she and her mother had spent so much time preparing for the details of the wedding and that the reception was “what (her mother) would have wanted and a party she would have loved.”
Spencer encourages people to donate to cancer research foundations, like the Huntsman Cancer Institute and Foundation One, to give hope to cancer patients and their families.
“Hold your loved ones close and enjoy every minute you spend with those who are special to you,” she said. “My mom always had a rule when we were home together as family — that we had to put our phones away and be present. I know now how important that time was.”