Terminally ill woman gets wedding boost
Invercargill businesses have joined worldwide support for two women who plan to get married before one succumbs to brain cancer.
It was love at first sight when Canterbury couple Susan Johnston, 42, and Nikita Ringdahl, 31, met last October.
They got engaged this year, but their long-term future together was thrown into disarray when Johnston was diagnosed with a large brain tumour.
She had surgery and is undergoing radiation treatment and chemotherapy, but has been told she has between five and 15 months to live.
The need to get married became more urgent with news of the illness, with October 1 the date set, but a lack of funds made planning difficult.
However, people from across the country and around the world have rallied to their aid.
More than $3,500 so far raised on a Givealittle page set up for them, and most of their wedding needs have been offered without charge.
Also, Invercargill bridal shop owner Donna Rae Dawson flew the couple to Invercargill on Friday and shouted each of them a wedding dress and accessories, totalling about $7500.
They both chose the first dresses they tried on.
The Kelvin Hotel in Invercargill put the couple up in the honeymoon suite for the night without charge.
The couple said they were overwhelmed with the support many people had given them.
"It feels incredible ... we never expected anything like this, we just wanted to get married," Ringdahl said.
They had met after communicating on a 'lost cats' Facebook page.
Ringdahl had lost her cat and Johnston was messaging her online, trying to help her find it.
"We met up, had a drink and the rest is history," Ringdahl said.
"We didn't find the cat but we did find true love."
They hope to travel around the South Island in a Comby van for their honeymoon.
Donna Rae Dawson, owner of the Brides by Donna Rae bridal shop in Invercargill, said her instant reaction was to help the couple when learning of their story, so she decided to fly them to the city and donate them their wedding dresses.
Dawson said she was "all about love" and wanted to help give the couple a beautiful wedding experience.
"Susan is so young and has suffered a terrible blow in life and I am all about paying it forward."
- The Southland Times