Some children don’t grow up dealing with hard-hitting circumstances until adulthood. Two children dealt with the hard-hitting for most of their childhood.
It certainly was hard-hitting for Joel Alsup and Lindsey Wilkerson. Alsup was seven when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and Wilkerson was 10 when she battled with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.
Childhood seemed grim for both.
“At the age of 10, I went from being a kid who had her whole life ahead of her to thinking that this cancer was a death sentence for me. But fortunately, our family found hope and support through St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital,” Wilkerson said.
“They discovered a tumor in my right arm. It had grown large enough that it broke a bone in my arm near my shoulder,” Alsup said.
Eventually Alsup lost his right arm. Only after both were declared cancer-free and reunited, did both become the happiest they have ever been in life.
After they became instant childhood friends, both lost contact after leaving for college, but reunited after both accepted jobs at St. Jude’s.
“When I met this guy, when I was in treatment, I admired him. I looked up to him. I thought he was such an incredible person. We grew in our friendship over the years,” Wilkerson said.
After working at St. Judes for awhile, both started to develop feelings for each other and Alsup decided to take their relationship to another level and propse to her.
“I was finally brave enough to tell her that I liked her, not only that, but I loved her. Luckily she felt the same way,” Alsup said.
“I could have never fathomed that I would be sitting here today at his side as his wife, having the privilege to be married on the grounds of the place that saved our lives,” she said.
Eventually both settled on September 1 as their wedding date, which symbolizes the first day of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month.
“It was the first day of National Childhood Cancer Awareness Month, because all of these pieces have come together to give us our ‘happily ever after,’” she said. “Now it’s our turn to pass that gift on.”
The couple had a chaplain (who met Alsup during his early days of treatment) officiate the ceremony. The couple also had other former cancer patients at their wedding party.
Both hope their story encourages individuals in their battle against cancer.