Care team makes couple’s dream come true in less than 48 hours
He had it all figured out. This would be the year he would propose to his girlfriend on a trip to the Grand Canyon, a perfect backdrop for that special moment. Reservations were made, but then his soon-to-be fiancée received the unexpected diagnosis of an aggressive and inoperable brain tumor.
Krystyn Fox, R.N. and Nicole Burns, B.S.N., nurses on 4B, didn’t know anything about this backstory when the patient was admitted to University Hospital, but as they got to know both her and her boyfriend, they realized this devoted young couple had very little time left — a few months at the most — to share special moments together.
‘How can we help you make it happen?’
They caught up with their patient’s boyfriend in the hall one evening and directly asked him, ‘Where do you stand on the idea of getting married?’
“When he told me, ‘I was going to propose this summer,’ and that she had pointed to her ring finger, suggesting she wanted a wedding before she died, I asked, ‘How can we help you make it happen?’ Fox said.
While he got the ring, rented a tuxedo and talked to a pastor, the entire care team went to work. In less than 48 hours, the team had arranged for a quiet proposal between the two, a “roll” down the aisle, and a wedding and reception with the family in attendance.
“While I was never her nurse, once I heard that one of her last wishes was to get married, I knew that I wanted to help make their day as special as possible,” said Arielle Mitchell, R.N.
“A few of us started planning on how we could make the wedding happen in such a short period of time,” Mitchell added. “Krystyn offered to bring her wedding dress and shoes for her to wear. I brought my wedding bouquet and bridesmaids bouquets. Sydnee, our social worker at the time, brought wedding decor to decorate the hospital room. All of the plans were coming together and we were all anxiously awaiting the proposal.”
She said ‘Yes!’
The following day the team put a privacy sign on their door to give the couple some time together. “He was super nervous about proposing, but, of course, she said yes,” Fox said.
They didn’t skip a beat planning the wedding for the couple later that day.
“Melissa and I did her hair; Andrea did her makeup. Her sister helped of course, and her mom brought her earrings,” Fox said.
“I remember how she kept showing off her ring. It was obvious how excited she was,” Mitchell recalled.
The team suggested she rest and took that time to run outside and decorate the yellow top gazebo in the courtyard. Back in the room the bride decided she was too tired from all the excitement to change into the dress, so the nurses wrapped her up in a white shawl. In the courtyard her father pushed her down the aisle. Her mother had arranged for all the family to be there. With smiles, and some tears, her “Michigan Medicine family” stood nearby looking on.
‘We made a real impact on their lives’
That was not the end of the surprises for the bride and groom and their family. There was a long procession with staff members lining the halls, clapping and cheering, in celebration of their life and marriage.
“You guys are beyond awesome, you know that, right?” her mother said as she passed the clapping crowd.
Rather than returning to the room, the care team planned for a reception in the 4B conference room, with cake and dinner from Olive Garden. The team relaxed the visitor policy so the couple could safely have two visitors at a time.
“We all felt close to this family and it was beautiful to see them celebrate their wedding in the short time they had left. It was also important for her mom and dad who now had a special moment that they could remember forever. It definitely felt like we made a difference, a real impact on their lives,” Fox said.
“The family went through a very tough time while she was here on 4B,” Mitchell said. “One of the most rewarding moments of my time as a nurse was being able to fulfill her last wish and provide her family with a beautiful memory. They touched all of our lives and we will never forget this couple.”