The perfect present: Couple’s wedding thanks after daughter’s life-saving operation
When Sonia Morrison and Grant Crosby marry today, their most precious wedding gift will be standing alongside them.
Four years after putting their wedding plans on ice when Ms Morrison's daughter, Toni, was diagnosed with a brain tumour, they will tie the knot with her playing her part as a bridesmaid.
It's a day the family feared they might never celebrate together when Toni, then 17, was rushed to hospital following a routine eye test and doctors discovered a growth attached to her spinal column.
To say 'thank you' to the doctors who brought Toni back to health, the Spixworth couple have asked wedding guests to make donations to the Brain Tumour Charity instead of bringing them presents.
'It's so close to our hearts, because one of our girls would not be here for our special day without them,' said Ms Morrison, 45.
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'We cannot say 'thank you' to them enough for the support from all the staff and doctors.'
The couple, of Redwing Gardens, hope to be able to hand over more than £1,000 towards the charity's life-saving research and support for patients and their families, following today's service at the Old Rectory in Crostwick.
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'We were thinking about getting married four years ago, but then Toni was diagnosed,' said Ms Morrison.
'We plodded on and last year thought 'now's the time'. Toni's getting her life back together again and she is well enough to be a bridesmaid. It's going to be emotional without a doubt, but it is also going to be very exciting.'
Toni's tumour was first spotted during an eye test in her lunch break in September 2009, after her vision began to get blurry.
Opticians immediately sent Toni to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital where she was examined, before being rushed to Addenbrooke's Hospital, in Cambridge.
Within hours, she was on the operating table, where surgeons drained a tumour near the top of her spinal column.
Two further operations followed over the next three months to fit a fluid drain, with doctors warning Toni that she might need radiotherapy.
Because of its location the tumour cannot be completely removed but Toni, now back at work as a carer, visits the hospital regularly for scans to ensure it is not growing.
She said: 'I just thought I needed glasses, but the optician saw a blockage of fluid in the back of my eye.
'It all happened so fast, and I didn't have time to think about it.'
Toni, of Dixon Road, Sprowston, admitted she was touched by the decision to give money to the Brain Tumour Charity.
'The doctors saved my life, and the charity offered me support when it looked like I would need radiotherapy,' she added.
'The research they do has saved my life, and hopefully it will help save others' lives too.'
Louise Taylor, director of fundraising at the Brain Tumour Charity, said brain tumours are the biggest cancer killer of people under 40 and survival rates have not improved over the past 40 years.
'We are leading the way in changing this and truly fighting brain tumours on all fronts through our work, including a £2.5m investment into research this year alone.
'We receive no government funding and rely 100pc on voluntary donations, so it's only through the efforts of people like Sonia and Grant that we can change these shocking statistics in the future and bring hope to the thousands of people who are diagnosed with a brain tumour every year.'
Donations can be made at www.thebraintumourcharity.org