Good News

Hospital workers throw wedding for terminally ill patient

March 13, 2013 at 7:40 AM ET

Workers at University of Louisville Hospital in Louisville, Ky., came together to grant a wish for a dying patient.

Hospital staff members call Evonne Lee an inspiration, so they provided a moment of joy and celebration to the 52-year-old cancer patient, who has a grim prognosis.

"Time is against her right now, and one of her wishes was to get married before she was out of time," said University Hospital nurse Melissa Pritchett.

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That's all it took to turn University Hospital into a wedding venue for Evonne Lee and Don Tyler.

"When we first met and we first got together, we decided we're in it for life," Tyler said.

That promise was enough eight years ago, but getting married became a priority when Lee was diagnosed with cancer last year. Don popped the question Christmas morning, as Lee's health began deteriorating.

"During February, I found out I had leukemia," Lee said.

She's been in the hospital since then, and doctors give her weeks to live.

"I know I don't have long, but the time I have, I'm just going to enjoy it," Lee said.

Tuesday was all about that. Lee is be unable to walk, so hospital staff wheeled her down from her sixth floor hospital room to the chapel.

The hospital chaplain performed the ceremony. Her body is in too much pain to wear the rings, so she wears her new ring around her neck.

The standing-room only wedding included family and friends and Lee's new hospital family.

"I've done many things on this floor but not wedding planning," Pritchett laughed. She helped organize the ceremony.

"We knew we were working against the clock, so a lot of the staff started bringing in all these wedding magazines," she said.

The planning brought Lee joy.

"She started getting really excited," Pritchett said. "She told me what kind of dress she wanted and what she was looking for and her vision of the day, and I was able to go to the local businesses and say what she wanted."

Lee's hospital room and a neighboring room were transformed into a reception hall.

Everything from the dress to the cake, food and flowers were all donated by local businesses.

"I've performed two other weddings, but this was an extraordinary experience where so many people came together to make this happen," said University Hospital Chaplain Rev. Tara Reck.

Lee's daughter was able to fly in from Japan where she's been living for six years. She recently learned of her mother's terminal diagnosis.

"When they first told me, I was in a daze. My mother's very young," Celeste Lee said.

She instead focused on the joy of her mother's wedding day.

"I've got my family here to support me. I have a new family with all the great staff here, and I'm just praying for the best," Celeste said.

The best is what Evonne and Don hope for with what little time she has left.

"No one really knows what day their time is up on Earth. I'm just living one day to the next," Lee said.

The family says University Hospital will always be special to them. It's where Evonne and Don got engaged, got married, and it will be where Evonne lives her final days as a married woman.

Nearly a half-dozen local businesses pitched in to make the wedding happen. Belmar Florist supplied the flowers, Pheln's Bakery donated a cake, Gigi's supplied cupcakes, Goose Creek Diner offered reception food, Sarah Hester Photography took pictures, and Rebecca's Boutique provided the wedding dress.

Matt McCutcheon is a reporter for WAVE 3 News at 11 in Louisville, Ky.


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