The first time their young son was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, an Ohio couple put their wedding plans on the back burner. But when the disease returned and made the future uncertain, the couple decided they didn’t want to wait to tie the knot any longer.
They married earlier this month at the hospital where their son was being treated, and just afterward, newlyweds Celia and Geff Kinzel brought 2-year-old Logan back to his room. With a mask on Logan’s face and his head resting on his dad's shoulder, the tender moment was captured in a photo that’s drawing heaps of well wishes online.
“It’s two parents doing the best they can in a terrible situation and finding happiness where there isn’t a lot of happiness, and not letting cancer get in the way of happy moments,” Celia Kinzel told TODAY.
The intimate wedding ceremony on Jan. 7 at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, was brief and small because of Logan’s compromised immune system. Even in the face of his serious diagnosis, it was a joyous day.
“A hospital wedding, you’d think it’d be a little sad,” said Kinzel, who surprised her fiance by secretly dressing in a wedding gown while he and the couple’s two sons wore jeans, white shirts and superhero ties. “There was nothing sad about it. It was perfect.”
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In February, Logan was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor called medulloblastoma. He underwent surgery and chemotherapy and was declared cancer-free after months of treatment.
But around Thanksgiving, his symptoms returned, and a scan brought devastating news.
“He didn’t just have one tumor,” his mom said. “He had one big tumor and multiple smaller tumors all around his brain and down his spine. There were too many of them to count and they’re inoperable.”
Logan was immediately hospitalized for surgery to remove part of the large tumor followed by chemotherapy. His smaller tumors have shrunk or disappeared, his mom says, though more treatment is ahead.
Although Celia, 26, and Geff, 32, had later set a wedding date in June 2018, they moved up the date and had the hospital wedding with Logan, his 4-year-old brother, Rowan, and 15 of their closest relatives two weeks ago.
“We didn’t know what the future is going to be for Logan,” Kinzel said. “We’re hoping for the best, but anything can happen.”
“It was very important for us that both boys were in attendance and celebrating with us,” she added.
Logan was front and center during the 2 p.m. ceremony in the hospital chapel because he wanted to be held by his dad. “He was part of the whole wedding,” Kinzel said.
Afterward, as the couple walked him back to his room, pushing his IV pole, the bride’s mother, Megan Dempsey, ran after the couple, taking photos to capture the unique moment.
“That scene, to me, it was just so pretty,” Dempsey said.
“It just encapsulates everything from that day,” she added. “It was just a little bit of happiness in the middle of a situation that’s been pretty sad and hard. I see love and bravery and joy.”
As the photo spread online, Kinzel hopes it raises awareness of pediatric cancer and the need for more funding for research.
“It’s one of the worst things to watch your child be in pain and going through so much,” she said. “It’s just awful but the way that children handle it is amazing and so inspiring. They’re still so happy and they just want to play and they’re always smiling.”
Logan was thrilled to go home from the hospital on Friday.
“That raised his spirits,” Kinzel said. “He’s been so happy to be sleeping in our bed and being with his brother.”
TODAY.com contributor Lisa A. Flam is a news and lifestyles reporter in New York. Follow her on Twitter: @lisaflam