A DEVOTED care home manager refused to let cancer get in the way of her husband’s 50th birthday gift – their surprise wedding.
Lesley Langton – now Carr – wasn’t sure what to get fiancée Derrick for the landmark birthday until colleagues came up with the covert wedding plan.
The 47-year-old mum, and co-workers at Highcliffe Care Home in Witherwack, Sunderland, started organising the nuptials back in May, just weeks before she found a lump on her breast ahead of a family holiday to Bulgaria.
She went to see her GP on their return to be given the devastating news she had breast cancer.
Despite undergoing surgery to remove one breast and some lymph nodes, she still pressed ahead with the surprise wedding plans and tied the knot in July.
Lesley, from Washington, is currently off work, but popped in to see her colleagues to have her head shaved ahead of chemotherapy sessions, which started earlier this month.
Her workmates also held a mock wedding bash in the couple’s honour.
She said: “I always said I would marry Derrick when he was 50 and our son was 10.
“His birthday was coming up and I couldn’t think of anything to get, then my colleagues suggested a surprise wedding.”
Recalling the moment she discovered a lump in her breast, Lesley said: “I was having a shower and felt a hard ridge.
“I asked Derrick to feel for it and he said there was something there. It was different to the other side. I’m quite laid-back sometimes and thought I’d sort it when I come back from my holidays.”
As well as contending with the cancer scare, the bride-to-be had a fright when her dress failed to arrive in time. Luckily Tonia Ann Bridal Wear in Washington stepped in, providing a discounted dress and making vital last-minute alterations for the bride.
The couple, who as well as 10-year-old son Jonathan have another four children between them from previous relationships, arrived at The Gables Hotel in Gretna on the day. Friends travelled up in separate cars with the wedding outfits, awaiting a thumbs-up text message from Lesley.
She added: “Why should life stand still because of cancer. You can’t let it take over. I thought ‘I can live without a boob, I can get another one later’.”
“I organised everything behind his back. He knew he was going away for a romantic weekend but that was it. I found a card which read ‘For my husband to be’ and I wrote a lovely verse inside.”
“The hotel were in on it. We sat Derrick down and got him a drink and I gave him the card.
“Obviously he said yes. So I sent a text to everyone letting them know. I had a suit ready for him and we got married a couple of hours later.”
When the couple returned, they held a tea party at the care home Lesley works at for the residents – who surprised her with a rendition of Here Comes The Bride.
The home was also filled with former colleagues and old friends as well as Sunderland’s Mayor and Mayoress, Stuart Porthouse and wife Marie. She said: “It was a massive surprise, they had invited everybody I had ever worked with. The place was packed. The residents loved it.”