Dozens of balloons were released into the sky above the China Medical University Hospital in Greater Taichung yesterday afternoon after a young couple vowed to be true to each other in sickness and in health during their wedding there.
That part of the marriage vows carries great significance to these particular newlyweds, given that the 22-year-old bride, Hsiao Yan (小晏), is a stage-four stomach cancer patient who may have just two months left to live.
The couple chose to get married in their high-school uniforms instead of traditional wedding attire, as the bride and her new husband, Ta Yan (大諺), were both students at New Taipei Municipal Yingge Vocational High School when they started dating a few years ago.
Hsiao Yan said she first began experiencing unusual abdominal discomfort and pain early this year.
She tried a variety of medicines to alleviate the increasing discomfort, but none stopped the increasingly severe pains.
She did not go to a doctor until last month, after she started noticing drops of blood when she went to the toilet.
By the time Hsiao Yan sought professional medical assistance, the stomach cancer had reached its final stage and spread to her bones, gastrointestinal tract and pelvic area.
She had to have a tube inserted into her abdomen to drain excess fluid and use a catheter after tumors obstructed her urethra.
She also had parts of her large intestine removed.
The procedures have not only caused Hsiao Yan significant pain and distress, but also increased her nausea, she said.
Ta Yan decided to show his determination to stand by her no matter what by proposing to her at an atypical time — while Hsiao Yan was vomiting into a toilet.
“Will you marry me?” Ta Yan said to Hsiao Yan as he recreated his “romantic” proposal at their wedding yesterday.
Hsiao Yan said she was reluctant to say yes at first because she knew that she would be gone soon, and was afraid that their brief time together could negatively affect Ta Yan’s marriage prospects in the future.
“However, Ta Yan was extremely persistent and I had no choice but to accept his proposal,” Hsiao Yan said, with a warm smile on her face.
Ta Yan said their parents were opposed to the idea of the two sweethearts getting married at first, but eventually gave their approval after being moved by his persistence.
“I do not know if Hsiao Yan will ever recover from cancer, but I am willing to take care of her and stand by her for as long as she lives,” Ta Yan said.