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‘We’ll totally figure it out for you’


Banner Thunderbird Medical Center

Planning a safe wedding for a young mother battling an intense form of cancer would always be difficult, but this oncology ward in Arizona did it during a pandemic.

As nurses at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale recently admired the engagement ring of Samantha Preston, a 22-year-old cancer patient, an incredible idea suddenly caught everyone’s attention.

Preston’s medical team saw how much support he received from his fiancee Angel Aguilar during her extensive treatment for late-stage osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. They also knew how much Preston loved his young son, Odin, and wanted to help the family.

“I said, ‘You’re coming in for a long day of transfusions on Friday. Why don’t you let us organize the wedding here at the clinic? ‘”Said Amy Mabry, a nurse practitioner at Banner Thunderbird Medical Center’s pediatric oncology center. “Her eyes sparkled and she said, ‘Really?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, we’ll totally figure it out for you.’

Preston’s medical team quickly became wedding planners. Social worker Kelley Hunt, child life specialist Courtney Smith, and the pediatric oncology team worked together to plan an unforgettable ceremony in just three days.

“After getting it right, it was time to pedal to the metal,” Mabry said. “We just wanted to make sure that as amazing as Sam is, she could experience a special day for herself, Angel, and their son Odin.”

The team received a lot of help from Smiles for miles, a non-profit group that helps children fight cancer. The organization “was instrumental in helping us get all the decorations and fix things,” Mabry said.

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An area of ​​the hospital that was traditionally used as a gathering place for families quickly became a beautiful place for the couple to get married. The team helped Preston put on professional makeup, and a local photographer captured every sweet moment between the family.

Banner Thunderbird Medical Center

“They just did their best with the decorations, and they had it all planned where they would cover my (IV) pole, hiding the transfusion that was happening. It was so magical! “Preston said.” And I told them if they hadn’t done what they did, I would have gone out to dinner after getting the court papers. “

Banner Thunderbird Medical Center

Smith said helping plan the special day was an honor. “Being a part of Sam’s wedding made history for me and my team, as it is not very often that pediatric patients, or adult patients under pediatric care, in Sam’s case, get married,” said Smith, whose team helped plan proms. quinceñeras, tea parties and more. “This is the first time at a wedding!”

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Preston’s cancer treatment began in August 2019 at Banner Children’s in Desert in Mesa, where he spent considerable time receiving chemotherapy to treat his osteosarcoma.

She remains determined to remain optimistic despite her health problems.

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“I always wanted to remember to overcome adversity with a positive attitude, because that is what will help you overcome it more easily,” Preston said.

“You know, everyone has their problems, no matter what they are. Yes, I am going through cancer, but there are other families who are now going through COVID. There are families who have been through cancer or other problems for much longer than I have. And you just have to remember, always stay positive no matter the situation or the obstacles you have to go through. “

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