A BRIDE was told she is cancer free just days before tying the knot.
Claire Douthwaite, 43, married commercial window cleaner Jez Child at St Peter’s Church in Heversham on July 25, 2022, followed by a celebration at Kendal’s Castle Green Hotel.
All of this just nine months after a nine-hour operation at Royal Preston Hospital to remove a tumour from her bowel.
After almost a year of battling the disease, Claire recalled the moment on a hot July day she learned her fate.
“The oncologist from the Christie Hospital (in Manchester) had previously said to me I won’t phone you, as I know you’re getting married, unless you’ve got something to worry about,” she said.
“So when his secretary rang me on July 18, and said he needed to speak to me, I thought the worst.
“My telephone appointment was the next day but he called me early when I was sorting the wedding flowers in Aldi and he told me I was free of cancer and didn’t need a scan until next July.
“What a wedding present.”
Despite the challenges she has faced over the last year, Heversham-born Claire believes her auspicious meeting with her future husband was ‘fate’.
“Rightmove was our dating site,” she said.
“I sold my house to my husband.
“We’d never met but it turned out our mothers went to Kendal High School together.
“Our brothers played cricket in Sedgwick together – there were so many bonkers connections.”
Just after their second date, in September 2021, Claire was rushed into Royal Lancaster Infirmary and diagnosed with a rare form of soft-tissue cancer.
“Afterwards, the oncologist told me I was three minutes from dying”, Claire remembered.
“I rang Jez from the hospital and said you probably want to run a mile, and he said: ‘I’m not going anywhere’.
“One of the jokes of the wedding speeches is that after our second date I was in hospital.”
Disaster almost struck the couple three days before their fairytale wedding when the arranged photographer became unavailable but Claire said she knew straightaway who to turn to save the day.
“I knew Jonny Gios was a remarkable photographer because I follow his photography on Facebook, and he was a fantastic support to me during my cancer journey,” she said.
“I rang him and said: ‘I’m in an absolute pickle, what are the chances?’
“He was doing a football tournament for St Thomas’ Church that week but he said he’d do it.
“He came with his son Caleb, straight off the pitch, arriving” at my parents’ house in his studs and his strip an hour before the marriage blessing!
“It’s uncanny how it all turned out, it was how it was meant to be, it was like fate.
“They made the day so great, the first time they’d done a father and son job together, nothing was too much hassle.
“His support, his friendliness, it makes me emotional to think about it now.
“He’s a real local hero.”
Jonny said: “It’s wonderful that Claire is so happy and found Jez.
“It’s a great story – out of bad situations can come good, there is always hope.”
Claire, who hopes to return to her counselling work soon, said that her form of cancer can never be fully eliminated, but she insists she is more positive now than ever.
“People ask me about the cancer, and would I turn the clock back on it, and make it go away, but I see it as one of the biggest gifts I’ve ever been given, because it’s made me realise how precious life is, and to stay positive,” she said.
“Life is about the now.”