Thousands raised in money and donations for cancer-stricken bride's wedding
PUBLISHED: 08:37 30 December 2016 | UPDATED: 11:35 30 December 2016
Dan Sunderland Photography
A mother-of-two who was diagnosed with cancer over Christmas is to get the wedding of her dreams after thousands of pounds in donations and gifts have been made towards her big day.
Amy Smith was told she has cancer of the lungs, shoulder and spine after she started to feel unwell while watching the Jack and the Beanstalk pantomime at the Norwich Theatre Royal.
Following the diagnosis her partner of 10 years, Gareth Innes, 37, proposed to her on Christmas Day and her friends created a GoFundMe page which at the time of printing had raised more than £9,000 in just a matter of days.
“It is so overwhelming what people are doing, it is unbelievable,” said the 34-year-old from Earlham. The heartbreaking news that she was suffering from cancer came out of the blue for Amy who has two daughters Tian, 11, and Lexie, eight.
She had been experiencing severe shoulder pain and dislocations since February and was told to have physiotherapy while she continued to work as the manager at the Muddy Cup in the city, the café which her mother owns.
“It was massive shock,” said Amy. “They just thought it was nerve damage in that area and it wasn’t holding the bone into place properly but it was actually the tumour the whole time crashing against the nerve.”
The cancer had spread from her lungs and she had to endure a 10-hour operation to remove part of the tumour which had crushed three of her vertebrae in her spine. The surgeons also inserted two metal rods along her spine to support her spinal cord. She now has limited mobility and she is having radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment.
Amy has been in hospital since her diagnosis but was allowed home for a few hours over the festive period which was when Gareth, whom she calls Gaz, proposed.
“I was home at 10am to 4pm on Christmas day and it was amazing,” she said. ‘‘The girls had saved all of their presents and Gaz’s brother brought us over Christmas dinner, it was really, really nice and the best place for me.”
Whilst Amy has been recovery at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital, her friends have been busy getting everything they need for the wedding which is being held on February 2. The group of 20 women, who are known as the Benidorm Babes, along with family members, have been contacting local businesses to see what they can get donated for the big day.
They also set up the GoFundMe page but they want to try to keep as much of that money as possible for the family. Ayshea Mallett, 31. said: “We don’t really want to touch the money because we wanted that to be their fund to do with whatever they wish and we don’t want to touch it for the wedding.
“There may be things that we have to use it for but at the moment we don’t want to touch it.”
So far Lenwade House has offered to hold the wedding free of charge and Michael Syder, from Out-Syders Catering, is providing the food but there are still things on the list. They are in need of the suits for the groom’s party, rings and a light-up dance floor.
Amy said of the donations: “There are no words to describe how I am feeling right now. I am so honoured, grateful and overwhelmed, so there are no words which would be enough to say thank you.” The couple have said that the wedding alone is enough to make all of their dreams come true but Amy does have one final request – other than being able to take a few steps down the aisle.
“Gaz is not Tian’s biological father. He has brought her up since she was one and she knows he is not her real Dad and she also knows who her real Dad was and that he passed away a few years ago.
“He is now in the process of adopting her and making her his own which again is a dream of mine and for him to fulfil.
“That would be next best thing I could ever ask for.”
Acts of kindness
Thousands of pounds continue to be donated on the fundraising page and offers of wedding essentials keep coming in.
Lenwade House has donated its hotel and bridal suite for the big day on February 2 free of charge after one of Amy’s friends got in contact with them.
Jane Scrivens, wedding co-ordinator at Lenwade House, said: “If it was a daughter of mine I would want everyone to help as much as possible so we decided we wanted to help and thought it would be a dream day for her.”
Other things that have been donated for the nuptials include a chocolate fountain, an ice cream van, a Ferris wheel, a selfie booth, a sweet cart, a wishing well, love letters, flowers, candy floss, a popcorn machine, camper vans, a horse and cart and an Oasis tribute band.
If you want to leave a donation for Amy you can visit the fundraising page at https://www.gofundme.com/AmysWish.
The dream dress
No wedding is complete for the bride without the perfect dress.
Dreams Bridal Wear have donated £500 to the gown and Amy knows exactly what she wants to wear. “I would like a really simple, straight down sort of lace dress,” she said. “I want long sleeves which would hook over my fingers but obviously nothing too figure hugging as I am very bloated from the medicine but that might change by then.” She added that she has no plans for her hair yet but has looked into getting a wig due to chemotherapy treatment.