A young Auckland couple had their dream wedding yesterday knowing that their happily ever after could be just a few weeks.
Vivian Fittall and Jack Waller had a two-year relationship and a healthy baby girl but their happiness was shattered with news that cancer had spread to Fittall's bowel, liver and lungs.
Marrying her soulmate in the time she had left meant everything to her, Fittall said.
"It means the entire world. My dress is practically like a Cinderella dress."
She said she knew Waller would be the man for her as soon as they met.
The 20-year-old's condition was discovered early last month and though doctors believe it to be terminal, they hope to extend her life with chemotherapy.
Waller, 25, said his wife's prognosis had gone from bad to worse. "Before Christmas I could tell that things were off. She just kept quiet and kept on going.
"They went from saying months - the doctor wasn't so happy to say years - to kind of not so sure about months. It was a big hit.
"I said ‘look, that's it. I need to marry you, I want to marry you'."
And with that, he whisked her to the top of Auckland's Mt Victoria for a sunset proposal complemented by some of Devonport's finest fish and chips.
Latest test results scuttled the couple's plan of marrying in April and the date was brought forward to yesterday. The daunting task of planning a wedding in just over a week was made easier by the rallying of the Hibiscus Coast community.
Everything was arranged and paid for through campaigning on social media.
Waller said the support had been incredible. "I'm swept away with it. It's all for Viv, it really is."
Fittall said she was "really overwhelmed".
She hoped to raise enough money to secure her 10-month-old daughter Sophie's future.
Waller's hopes for his daughter are simple. "To have her mum around as much as possible, as at this age, I don't think she will remember her. It's everything a father would hope for his daughter, a good life, a good education, to know her mother.
"Everyone tells me it is so easy to be a single dad, but I think they're lying."
The condition that led to Fittall's cancer, familial adenomatous polyposis or FAP, is hereditary and has affected many in her family.
The decision to have baby Sophie so early was based on doctors' recommendations that the couple had a small window in which they could have a child.
Waller said that although the decision was made with mixed feelings, Sophie was a blessing.
"I see Vivian in her smiles and laughter. It's the thing that moves my world. We have done amazingly well for her with how little we have."
Yahn Fittall, Vivian's father, said chemotherapy could start only when she was well enough, as she weighed less than 38 kilograms and was having trouble keeping food down. "Vivian is trying to stay positive . . . We would like to think she will last as long as possible, but we also know this is a deadly disease."
The couple hope to go on a small honeymoon - though Fittall's dream of a Rarotonga getaway could be difficult in the time they have.
Fittall has a donations page on givealittle.co.nz which has so far raised more than $40,000.
- Sunday Star Times