Michigan Couple Moves Up Wedding Date After Both Are Diagnosed With Cancer

By Hannah DeRuyter

March 15, 2022

Happy bride and groom enjoying romantic moments outdoors. Wedding couple.Winter concept.
Photo: Getty Images

A Michigan couple is moving up their wedding date after they were both diagnosed with cancer just days apart.

According to WOOD, 24-year-old Clay Slenk and 23-year-old Mariah Nelesen of Zeeland were set to say "I do" on June 10 but will now be sharing their vows and making the promise of
"in sickness and in health" on April 9.

The two got engaged on December 26, 2020. "We had a long engagement (and) we're hoping to get married June 10 of this year," Slenk told the news outlet.

The couple sent out their save the date cards, but both were diagnosed with different cancers at the beginning of this year.

"I got a phone call January 11 of this year that I had ovarian cancer," Nelesen said. "That's not a call that anyone expects to receive."

Just eight days after Nelesen received the news about her ovarian cancer, Slenk got a call about bloodwork he had gotten done due to suffering from what he thought were side effects of pneumonia.

"All of a sudden, I got a phone call at like 8 o'clock, and my doctor was like, 'I want you to go to Spectrum right now. I think you have Leukemia,'" Slenk, 24, said.

Following the upsetting news, Slenk spent over 40 days in the hospital.

While Slenk was going through aggressive treatment, Nelesen went through her options with ovarian cancer and began freezing her eggs.

"Now, we're into it deep," Slenk added. "And it's not just one person; it's both of us."

Instead of being angry about their illnesses, they are making the best of their days. They moved their wedding date up to say "I do" before Slenk undergoes an intensive stem cell transplant.

"We moved up our wedding date so we could be married during that time," Slenk noted. "So she would be here to take care of me and we could go through that hard part together."

The wedding won't be exactly as they planned. However, Nelesen says she isn't too worried about the little details.

"I was caught up in planning and excited for all the little details, like the venue we were going to be at and the food that we were going to have," Nelesen stated. "(Now), replanning the wedding, I've just thrown all of that out the window. It's going to be a special day no matter what, and we're going to have burgers and brats on the grill."

"It won't be easy going forward, but we know that it'll be more meaningful to go through it together," Slenk added.

Slenk told WOOD that since the diagnosis, he has changed his vows. "There'll be a little more sickness before the health, but that's alright."

A GoFundMe has been set up to help the couple during this time. If you would like to donate, you can find the page here.

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