Friday, March 11, 2011

Hospital room wedding

Are your tissues handy?

Patricia Wallenberg had her daughter's wedding planned out. It would take place this summer. Her husband, Ken, would drive their daughter, Amy, to the elegant banquet hall in his 1929 Model A Ford. There would be a four-course meal, a disc jockey and 150 guests.

She just wasn't sure she would be there.

Wallenberg, 64, has terminal cancer. She went to a hospital last week for a blood transfusion and nearly died. Relatives rushed to her bedside. Doctors were uncertain whether she would live to see the wedding. So she made a request: Could they have it at the hospital? "I didn't think I'd be around to see her on her special day, and that's what I wanted to do," Wallenberg said.

On Tuesday night, she watched her daughter, Amy, 33, and Michael Percival, 35, get married in a small chapel at Gottlieb Memorial Hospital in Melrose Park, where she is undergoing cancer treatments.

Really sweet news story. :*)

The couple met in May 2009 at a fundraiser for the Diveheart Foundation, a nonprofit in Downers Grove that provides scuba and snorkeling programs to people with disabilities. Amy Wallenberg, a volunteer, sold Percival a raffle ticket.

"I told him to put his phone number on it," she said.

The couple got engaged last Thanksgiving. Patricia Wallenberg began planning the wedding. She tested the food, made flower arrangements and selected bridesmaid dresses — even though she wasn't feeling well.

After battling breast cancer for years, she learned a year ago that it had spread to her liver. The number of drugs available to treat her is getting fewer, her doctor said. On Friday, doctors noticed she was anemic and short of breath. They told her family to contact out-of-state relatives. "It looked like things were really critical," said Dr. David Rosi, her oncologist. "I really wasn't sure she'd survive the weekend." But she did.

On Monday, as her condition improved, she asked her daughter and fiance if they wanted to have the wedding at the hospital. "We might as well go with it as long as everybody is here," Patricia Wallenberg said. Before driving 15 hours from their home in Longview, Texas, Amy Wallenberg packed her wedding dress and Percival his suit.

"This wedding is all her mom has been looking forward to for several months," he said. "She's practically planned the whole wedding since we got engaged," Amy Wallenberg added. "If she wasn't there to see it, that would have been hard to go through."


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