A young bride said her vows from her hospice bed before passing away from cancer just days later.
‘Fit and healthy’ maths teacher Samantha Webster went to hospital in June complaining of stomach pains and received the earth-shattering news that she had aggressive cancer of the appendix and had months to live.
Determined to get married before she died, Samantha, who had never ‘smoked, drank alcohol or touched drugs’ and was planning to have a baby, exchanged vows with her partner Alec in the hospice where she was being cared for in Shropshire.
The 33-year-old passed away less than one week later with her new husband by her side, and just ten weeks after being given her diagnosis.
Her new husband, who has not been able to speak about her death until now, has paid tribute to his ‘soulmate’ who ‘touched the lives of so many.’
This is the second tragedy to hit Alec after his 18-year-old daughter Nioni, from a previous relationship, passed away in 2016 after a two-year battle with leukaemia.
Alec and Samantha Webster got married at the Severn Hospice in Shropshire after the young maths teacher was told she had weeks to live
The couple, who had been planning to have a baby, were determined to enjoy their big day
Samantha, pictured on her wedding day, passed away less than one week later, with her new husband at her side
Alec and Samantha met at the gym and spent four years together. They had been planning to get married and have a baby before her earth-shattering diagnosis
After complaining of stomach pains, Samantha spent three weeks at the Royal Shrewsbury Hospital before being transferred to Christy Hospital in Manchester for specialist care.
She then spent another three weeks there before being moved to the Severn Hospice for end of life care.
The pair tied the knot on the hospice ward joined by friends and family, including both their parents, on September 1 before she passed away on September 7.
Alec, 38, spent every day at Samantha’s bedside and said he was determined to pull out all the stops in order to give his sweetheart ‘the wedding she deserved’ after she was told she had weeks to live.
Their wedding day featured handmade decorations and photos and chalkboards full of their life together to help set the romantic scene.
Moving photographs captured tender moments between the pair as Mrs Webster smiled up at her new husband and shared their first kiss as man and wife.
The businessman, from Newport, said: ‘The wedding was very emotional for us. It was the hardest day, but beautiful at the same time.
‘Sam was so special and during her life touched the lives of many in the community. ‘Over 300 people came to her funeral. She was amazing.
‘When she was diagnosed with cancer we just had to pull out all the stops. We had already decided we were gong to get married.
‘Sam was the only person who could smile no matter what was happening and she made others smile – we don’t have a photo where she is not smiling.
‘It was a wonderful day and I was glad we could make it happen as we had always wanted to get married.
‘We had always wanted a family together and we were looking to have a baby. I’m heartbroken but proud we could make this happen.’
Alec, who has not been able to speak about Samantha’s death until now, has paid tribute to his ‘soulmate’ who ‘touched the lives of so many’
Despite her heartbreaking diagnosis Samantha beamed on her big day, and continued to smile throughout her battle with cancer
Alec, friends, family and hospice staff ‘pulled out all the stops’ to make sure the couple could enjoy their special day
The couple exchanged vows in a hospice just ten weeks after Samantha had been diagnosed with cancer
Cancer of the appendix
Pseudomyxoma peritonei is a very rare type of cancer which usually begins in the appendix as a small growth, called a polyp.
This polyp eventually spreads through the wall of the appendix then spreads cancerous cells to the lining of the abdominal cavity (the peritoneum).
Pseudomyxoma peritonei doesn’t act like most cancers. It rarely spreads through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system to any other part of the body.
Instead it spreads inside the abdomen. Without treatment it eventually takes over the peritoneal cavity and presses on the bowel and other organs.
Most people don’t have any symptoms for a long time. When symptoms occur they may include any of the following: slow increase in waist size hernia (a swelling on the abdomen), loss of appetite, unexplained weight gain, abdominal or pelvic pain, changes in bowel habits, appendicitis.
Source: Cancer Research UK
Alec, who runs a transport company, has only now been able to speak about her death.
He said despite the cancer making her tired, Samantha smiled throughout the day while surrounded by hospice staff, friends and family.
He added: ‘The cancer took her over so quickly but she was determined to enjoy our big day.
‘I tried to mingle with the people but really just wanted to be with Sam.
‘We both had our lives before but it makes you feel that, if you want something, you should just do it.
‘We were together for four years and we met when we attended the local gym, we both hated it but we still went.
‘The thing was that Sam was always, she never smoked or did drugs and she never drank, we had water whenever we went out for a meal.
‘She was told that she had the cancer 10 weeks before she died on September 7 but the doctors said that she had probably had it growing inside her for six to eight months before that.
‘It was such a rare cancer that I can’t really fault the doctors, it was just one of those cruel things that happen in life.’
He also thanked hospice staff – who even held a hen and stag do on the ward – for making their big day special.
‘What they do at the hospice is phenomenal they went above and beyond, they did so much for Sam. They set aside an entire area of the hospice for us to use.
‘We had all the decorations and everything we could possibly want – it made us feel that we had a proper wedding.’
Alec said: ‘We both had our lives before but it makes you feel that, if you want something, you should just do it’
Samantha was a ‘fit and health’ maths teacher who had never smoked or touched drugs and didn’t drink alcohol
Alec said: ‘It was a wonderful day and I was glad we could make it happen as we had always wanted to get married. ‘We had always wanted a family together and we were looking to have a baby. I’m heartbroken but proud we could make this happen’
Staff filled the ward with handmade decorations and photos of the couple and even held a stag and hen do
Ward sister Leeanne Morgan, said: ‘We feel so honoured to have been welcomed into Alec and Sam’s special day and we are so happy that their wish to make it happen came true.
‘This really encapsulates the work we do at the hospice which is not only about clinical care – it is about ensuring that life’s special moments are cherished, especially when time is limited.
‘When Sam and Alec initially mentioned the idea to me, I knew I had to do all I could to make it happen. All the planning and paperwork that takes others sometimes years to organise had to get done.
‘Our creative therapist, Amanda, worked with Sam and Alec to create cufflinks for the big day with Sam’s fingerprints on, and to make a plaster mould of their hands intertwined.
‘Absolutely everyone rallied around to help we spoke with our chaplaincy team, the council and our clinical staff to arrange what was needed in regards to the legalities.
‘We were all so pleased for them, the day was absolutely magical and full of memories for them.’