Staff Plan "Joyous" Hospital Wedding for North Carolina Cancer Patient

"It goes to show how important it is to have folks with you when you’re in a tough spot to make sure you get what you need to support you when you’re quite ill."

Maria Isabel Cipple Leon Wedding
Photo: UNC Health

When it became clear that cancer patient Maria Isabel Cipple Leon wouldn't be healthy enough to attend her own wedding earlier this month, staff at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill teamed up to give her the nuptials she deserved.

Leon's medical team joined forces with the chaplain's office to pull off a hospital wedding in just one week. On the big day, the physical therapy team and Leon's nurses helped her into a wedding dress. Medical residents provided a wedding cake and bouquets of flowers to decorate the wheelchair that took Leon from the ICU to the chapel. Dozens of family and friends lined the hallway, singing as the couple processed through an arch of white roses. Members of their church provided the music.

"It was really beautiful," Rev. James Adams, the hospital's palliative care chaplain and bereavement coordinator, told The News & Observer. "The thing I took away from it is just how wonderful it is to have community. … It goes to show how important it is to have folks with you when you're in a tough spot to make sure you get what you need to support you when you're quite ill."

Adams, who usually oversees more somber events, said that it was nice to celebrate a cheerful occasion at the hospital.

"You don't get to do a lot of the joyous occasions," he told the newspaper. "So I was privileged (and) really, really overjoyed to get to help someone set up a time, this space, to have this joyous life event."

"I feel privileged to be a part of it," he went on, "and grateful to a facility and organization and a team that's willing to go out of the box to give a patient and family what they need to find fulfillment and joy."

Well done, y'all.

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