For many of us, we will experience a number of significant moments in our lives. Whether it’s earning our first job to finally tying the knot with our partner, these events will stay in our memories forever. Samantha and Alec Webster could certainly attest to that, as they got married in September 2018.
Residents of Telford, England, businessman Alec and teacher Samantha started their relationship back in 2014. And as time went on, they both harbored dreams of having their own family. In fact, the couple were already looking ahead to the possibility of welcoming a child into the world.
However, Samantha and Alec’s lives were turned upside down in the summer of 2018. That June, the teacher booked an appointment at the hospital after suffering with aches in her stomach. She was due to undergo some tests at that point, but as a result of her condition those plans quickly changed.
Before long, Samantha found herself at a medical facility in Manchester, England, for a surgical procedure. After that, Alec and his long-term girlfriend were told that she had appendix cancer, with doctors giving her just months to live. So on that note, the pair decided to bring their wedding plans forward.
Naturally, a wedding day is arguably one of the biggest moments of someone’s life. And while the planning can sometimes prove to be incredibly stressful, the event itself more than makes up for it. Often, when the individual is stood across from their partner at the altar, everything else fades into the background.
Once the ceremony is complete, the bride and groom are ready to kick-start the next stage of their lives together as husband and wife. From there, they could opt to keep things as they are, while others might want to add a new face to the family. With that in mind, Alec and Samantha had hoped to experience that themselves one day.
Alec and Samantha, natives of the English town of Newport in Shropshire, were first introduced at a gym, with their relationship blossoming from there. The couple had careers in different sectors at that time, as the former ran his own business. Known as Green Arrow Transport, the company is based in Telford, where they lived.
Meanwhile, Samantha worked at Hadley Learning Community in Telford, a local school that teaches both primary and secondary education. First established back in 2006, the facility now houses in excess of 1,500 students, most of whom are in the older age groups. During her time there, she taught math classes to the youngsters.
However, in 2016 Alec went through an incredibly difficult period in his life, as he received some heartbreaking news. Several years before meeting Samantha, he’d been in a relationship that resulted in the birth of a little girl named Nioni. By 2014 she was well into her teenage years, but everything changed at that point.
Nioni was diagnosed with leukemia during that period, and she spent the next couple of years fighting back against the disease. Tragically, though, the brave youngster eventually succumbed to her condition in 2016. Alec’s daughter was just 18 years old at the time of her passing, leaving him devastated.
But while that painful period was no doubt lingering in Alec’s mind in the following years, he looked to move forward with Samantha. As the business owner explained during an interview with the U.K. newspaper The Sun, the pair had solid plans for the future. In fact, those hopes went beyond a simple wedding.
“We had always wanted to get married,” Alec told the publication in November 2018. “We had always wanted a family together and we were looking to have a baby.” Unfortunately for the Telford residents, those plans unraveled in the summer of 2018, when Samantha noted some discomfort in her stomach.
Alec then recounted what happened after that while talking to the Shropshire Star newspaper in November 2018. He said, “The GP had referred [Samantha to the hospital] for some scans, but because she was feeling uncomfortable we couldn’t wait for the appointment.”
As it turned out, Samantha required care at another medical facility, over 70 miles away from Telford. Alec added, “Then Royal Shrewsbury Hospital referred her to Christie’s Hospital in Manchester where she was operated on as soon as she arrived. It was then that we realized she had a very aggressive cancer.”
Just two years on from losing Nioni to the disease, Alec and Samantha had to face it down again. But unlike the teenager’s diagnosis, the math teacher was informed that she had a rare type of appendix cancer. Given how uncommon this particular affliction is, Cancer Research U.K. provided a detailed description of it via its website.
“Pseudomyxoma peritonei (PMP) is a very rare type of cancer,” read the post. “It usually begins in your appendix as a small growth, called a polyp. Or, more rarely, it can start in other parts of the bowel, ovary [or] bladder. This polyp eventually spreads through the wall of your appendix, or wherever else it starts.”
From there, the Cancer Research post described the next stage of the process. It continued, “[The polyp] then spreads cancerous cells to the lining of the abdominal cavity (the peritoneum). These cancerous cells produce mucus, which collects in the abdomen as a jelly-like fluid called mucin. Doctors often call PMP a borderline malignant condition.”
However, when compared to many other types of cancer, PMP acts very differently. The disease usually moves around the anatomy via the bloodstream and lymphatic system, which is how it can spread. But in the case of Samantha’s condition, the cancerous cells remain in the abdominal area of the body.
“Without treatment, [PMP] eventually takes over the peritoneal cavity and presses on the bowel and other organs,” the Cancer Research post explained. “This condition develops very slowly and it might be years before you have any symptoms from this type of cancer. Because of this, it usually has to spread beyond the appendix before diagnosis.”
So with that in mind, the post on the Cancer Research website then listed the signs that you should look out for. It added, “Symptoms can include abdominal or pelvic pain, abdominal swelling and bloating, [a] hernia, and loss of appetite. Often, pseudomyxoma peritonei is only properly diagnosed after an operation to look into the abdomen.”
Tragically for Alec and Samantha, the latter’s prognosis was far from positive. After receiving the news, she didn’t want to stay in Manchester, instead opting for a facility back in Telford. Once they arrived, the educator’s physicians then revealed that she only had a matter of weeks before the cancer would take her life.
Off the back of that heartbreaking bombshell, Samantha and Alec came up with an idea. The latter recalled to the Shropshire Star, “She was referred to Severn Hospice, who were 100 percent honest with us and explained that she didn’t have long to live. We had already decided we were going to get married.”
So, despite the sad prognosis, Alec and Samantha looked to realize one of their biggest ambitions before she passed away. Thankfully for the couple, those at the hospice were more than willing to help them put the event together. Furthermore, they also organized bachelor and bachelorette parties at the facility as well.
Then, the big day finally arrived on September 1, 2018. Dressed in a white wedding gown, Samantha was pictured in her hospice bed sporting a big smile ahead of the ceremony. And from there, the bride-to-be and her partner exchanged their vows while surrounded by a small group of family and friends.
Unsurprisingly, this proved to be an incredibly bittersweet moment for Alec, as he explained to The Sun. The businessman 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 [she] touched the lives of many in the community.”
Just six days on from the ceremony, Samantha sadly succumbed to her cancer at the hospice. Her death came around three months after she was initially diagnosed. But while Alec was undoubtedly devastated by the loss, he looked back at their special day with a lot of fondness, touching upon his partner’s attitude.
Alec told The Sun, “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. I’m heartbroken, but proud we could make this happen.”
As for the event itself, Alec described everything that happened at the hospice in great detail. The business owner noted the small gathering for the actual wedding, which grew in size as the day went on. And while he tried to enjoy himself with the guests, his mind was understandably somewhere else.
“The cancer took [Samantha] over so quickly, but she was determined to enjoy our big day,” Alec continued to The Sun. “During the initial ceremony at about 12:00 p.m. we just had close friends and family, but even then Sam was getting a bit tired. Then from around 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. in the afternoon, we had a buffet.”
Alec recalled, “An extended group of around 40 people [attended the buffet]. I tried to mingle with the people but really just wanted to be with Sam. What they do at the hospice is phenomenal, they went above and beyond, they did so much for [her].” At that point, the groom switched his focus to the setting.
Indeed, Alec was evidently impressed by the work of the hospice staff, who decorated a section of the facility for the event. The Newport native went on to pay them a massive compliment, claiming that they “made us feel that we had a proper wedding.” And following the nuptials, one of those individuals came forward.
Leanne Morgan, who ran the hospice ward during Samantha’s time there, shared her thoughts via the facility’s official website. The sister said, “We feel so honored 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.”
Leanne continued, “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.”
At that point, Leanne spoke about her role as a wedding planner, which proved somewhat challenging. With time very much against Alec and Samantha, it needed to be put together fairly quickly, especially when compared to a standard church ceremony. However, the sister received plenty of assistance along the way.
“Our creative therapist, Amanda, worked with Sam and Alec to create cufflinks for the big day with Sam’s fingerprints on,” Leanne recalled. “And to make a plaster mould of their hands intertwined. Absolutely everyone rallied around to help.” On that note, she then delved into the intricacies of the wedding itself.
Given Samantha’s condition at the time, certain plans had to be put in place to help the day go smoothly. As Morgan explained, “We spoke with our chaplaincy team, the council and our clinical staff to arrange what was needed in regards to the legalities, Sam’s medications and care. All in addition to the usual wedding day event logistics.”
Off the back of all that hard work, Morgan had one last thing to say on the matter. In her mind, the wedding couldn’t have gone any better for Samantha and Alec. The sister added, “We were all so pleased for them, the day was absolutely magical and full of memories for them.”
Meanwhile, the local community looked to give something back to the hospice following Alec and Samantha’s big day. So in the fall of 2018, a fundraiser was held at The Body Barn, a gym just outside Newport. It’s believed that over 200 people visited the facility that day, donating whatever they could for the cause.
Then, a few weeks after the fundraiser, the gym’s founder touched upon the efforts of the locals, as well as his relationship with Samantha. “Sam was one of my personal trainer clients and we became really good friends,” Danny Robb told the Shropshire Star in November 2018, “She was very well known in the community.”
Danny added, “We wanted to do something to thank the hospice staff for the lovely way they looked after [Samantha]. And we came up with a coffee and cakes [day], although we’re a gym. However, it went very well and we have so far raised $1,464 with more cash due to come in, which is amazing.”