From nightmare to dream wedding
A COUPLE who have overcome a touch-and-go battle against a rare form of cancer are looking forward to swapping South Yorkshire for South Africa when they tie the knot in their dream wedding abroad.
Kurt Lindley and Toni Stringer will travel with their friends and family to Durban next April, where they will say ‘I do’ at a service within the Tala Game Reserve.
Their marriage will mark a new chapter for the couple, who have endured a rollercoaster 18 months as Toni fought a rare form of cancer called retroperitoneal sarcoma in her abdomen.
Surgery at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital was the only option open to her and although the nine-hour operation was a success, medics struggled to get the bleeding under control and her condition quickly deteriorated.
Thankfully Toni, aged 33, came back from the brink – and has enjoyed an incredible recovery since those initial dangerous days.
Now they are looking ahead and making plans for the future as husband and wife.
Kurt, 33, said: “We’d never really thought about weddings and stuff until a couple of years ago but things kind of clicked into place just before she got ill.
“We’d always planned on it being in South Africa as that’s where I grew up. It’s a beautiful venue and a great place to start the next chapter of our life. We’re both really excited about it – feeling upbeat and positive about the future after all that Toni has been through.”
Problems first came to light for primary school teacher Toni in March 2009 when she started suffering from discomfort and bloating.
Over the following months the symptoms got worse with various theories – covering everything from an appendix about to burst to a cyst on her ovary – put forward but then discounted.
It was not until November that the couple, from Warmsworth, Doncaster, were given the devastating news Toni had cancer. Not only that, it was in an extremely rare form. Sarcomas make up only 10 per cent of all cancers and the type she was suffering with account for just one per cent of that 10 per cent.
Kurt said: “It meant there weren’t any drugs or chemotherapy available – the only options were to leave it or operate on it.”
The procedure took place on December 10 – a day and night vivid in Kurt’s memory.
“At about 6pm myself and Toni’s family were taken to a quiet room – the place where you know the only news you are going to get will be bad,” he said.
“I will never forget until the day I die the phrase the surgeon used as he sat us down: ‘We’re not saying Toni is going to die, but we are very concerned about her’.
“At this point I couldn’t allow myself to think the game was over as I know I would have fallen apart. Whilst we didn’t know it or feel it at the time, what happened next can only be described as the beginning of something amazing – a story of true strength and inspiration.”
Throughout their whole journey Kurt, a product development manager for a sports company, and Toni, have received great support from the Cavendish Cancer Care charity in Sheffield.
Toni received counselling and complementary therapies as her battle through recovery continued and Kurt is also receiving therapy to help him deal with all that has happened.
As a way of saying thank you, he completed the 2 Oceans Ultra Marathon in April – a 56km race across Cape Town from the Indian Ocean to the Atlanic Ocean which raised more than £2,000.
He also ran in tribute to his uncle Mike Lindley, a veteran of the race who died from cancer in February and in honour of Toni’s cousin who is currently fighting his own battle against throat cancer.
Kurt said: “The Cavendish Centre has been a lifeline for us – this was my way of giving something back and taking and completing my own challenge after all that Toni has been through.”