Terminally ill mum gets dream wedding after devastating lung cancer diagnosis


Hayley Adams had led a healthy and active life as a dedicated single mum to her son, but after meeting the love of her life all she wanted was to get married – until doctors turned her world upside down with a shock diagnosis

Hayley and Steve
Hayley has completed her one wish to walk down the aisle

A terminally ill mum whose dream was to get married has finally tied the knot after her friends, family and strangers pulled together the “best day of her life” in just a week.

Hayley Adams, 38, had never smoked a single cigarette, but her world was turned upside down when doctors revealed she had stage four terminal cancer in her lungs and bones earlier this month.

The mum-of-one had raised her son Jack, 17, as a single parent until she met her now husband Steve Manen, 40, nine years ago.

Energy supplier Steve had secret plans in the pipeline to wait for Hayley’s 40th to propose in New York – until they were dealt the devastating blow that she might not live to see that birthday.

Determined to make Hayley’s dreams come true, Steve proposed on the spot in the hospital while their family set about organising the big day, which they pulled off with the help of complete strangers on November 18.

Hayley and Steve have had their dream wedding thanks to family and friends

Hayley, from Tottenham, said: “It was the best day of my life. We didn’t know what we were walking into but it was perfect.

“I wouldn’t let myself cry because I needed it to be a celebration and a happy day.

“But in the back of my mind I was thinking, I’m surrounded by all the people that I love and I don’t want to leave them.

“When they told me I had terminal cancer, it was absolutely devastating, my world was turned upside down.

“I’ve never smoked a day in my life and I hardly ever drink, I’ve always led a healthy lifestyle.

“It was always my dream to go to New York and get married to Steve.

“We just thought we had all the time in the world to do it.

“He proposed on the hospital floor and I was crying as I accepted because it was just so bittersweet.”

In 2016, Hayley wanted to be a kidney donor for her mum, but after undergoing the required tests doctors found nodules on her lungs and decided to start monitoring them.

Three years later, after noticing a change in one of the nodules on her right lung, they removed the lower part of the organ to do a biopsy, which came back benign.

But after a follow up endoscopy in August this year, Hayley noticed that she was struggling with breathlessness, constant coughing and pains in her bones.

Hayley and Steve before Hayley uncovered her devastating diagnosis

Despite repeated trips to the doctors it wasn’t until she started coughing up blood that she was referred to A&E, where they did another CT scan and saw her lung nodules had dramatically changed and become cancerous.

Hayley was later told her condition is terminal.

Floored by the news that his time with the love of his life was suddenly greatly diminished, Steve decided to pop the question and Hayley accepted.

Kelly Manen, Steve’s sister and a close friend of Hayley, and her partner Demitri Polycarpou set about organising a wedding for the pair as soon as possible, calling on social media for help wherever they could find it.

With donations from businesses, complete strangers and the help of family and friends, the couple celebrated with 150 guests at Tottenham Powerleague Club.

The happy couple joined their guests after a ceremony at St Benet Fink church

Despite having just four days to finish the job on a shoestring budget, the wedding boasted a donut wall, food and drink donated by Tesco and Morrisons, and a perfect dress for Hayley who was given away by her son.

Kelly said: “Hayley has always been close with the family, we’ve known her since we were all kids so she’s always been like a sister to me even before she got together with Steve.

“It’s always been her dream to get married, she used to joke that the only ring she’ll ever get off my brother is a Ring doorbell.

“But he had planned to take her to New York and propose just like she always wanted.

“When she had her first dance with Steve and then her mother and son dance with Jack, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.”

Hayley with her sister in law Hayley and brother in law Demitri who helped pull the wedding off in four days (Photo by Paul Wood)

Now the family have launched a GoFundMe to support Hayley’s son Jack, who has additional needs, after she dedicated her life to raising and supporting him.

Hayley’s brother in law, Demitri added: “Her whole life Hayley has always looked after everyone else and her son Jack.

“Even now she is the one staying strong and being a rock for all of us, so the least we can do is make sure she knows that her boy will still be looked after when she’s gone.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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