When Natalie Sanders was diagnosed with breast cancer in September and given a year to live, she didn’t think she would be able to get married.
But, this weekend, her three-year-old son walked her down the aisle – and she tied the knot with groom Idrees Mohammad at a fairytale wedding ceremony in a Scottish castle.
She lit up the room with her smile, and the couple brought the guests to tears as they shared their first dance.
The 30-year-old had overcome the odds, making it to her wedding day after being diagnosed with Grade 4 Metastatic breast cancer last year.
Thanks to charity Wedding Wish Makers, who launched an appeal for help from generous businesses, and donations from friends and family, the couple had their dream wedding.
In the drawing room of Crossbasket Castle in Blantyre, the couple held hands and exchanged vows with their son Zeke by their side.
Natalie, from Coatbridge, Scotland said: “It really was the best day of my life, second only to the day our baby was born.
“Zeke is our whole world and one of the reasons we were so desperate to get married was so he will always have beautiful memories of our special day.
“I was hit by so many emotions as he put his little hand in mine and walked me down the aisle to the sound of the bagpipes. I couldn’t quite believe it was finally happening.
“I did not think I would live to see this day especially after doctors told me to move it forward and then it kept being postponed due to Covid restrictions or me being really ill.
“In the end it all worked out perfectly as we were able to have 50 guests instead of the original five. Being able to share the day with friends and family made it even more special.”
Natalie wore an ivory fish-tail gown with a crystal-encrusted train. The couple and their guests enjoyed a sit-down meal and a wedding cake gifted by one of Natalie’s work colleagues.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the castle when the bride and groom took to the floor for their first dance to Edwina Hayes’ ‘Feels like Home.’
Natalie said: “The whole day was perfect from start to finish. We could not have done it without our guardian angel Suzanne Stevenson from the Wedding Wishmakers and all the vendors who offered their services – from the celebrant and the car company to the bagpiper, photographer and videographer.
“My lovely cousin Charlene bought me my beautiful dress and the hairdresser worked her magic on my wig and managed to get it into a wedding up do.”
Natalie said she would have struggled to find the energy to plan even a small wedding – never mind her dream service.
Natalie, who has a faulty BRCA gene, was initially diagnosed with Grade 3 Triple-Negative breast cancer in October 2019. She underwent extensive treatment before being told she was cancer free in May last year.
But just a month later, she felt a painful build up of fluid in her right breast. Doctors discovered the cancer had spread and gave Natalie between six and 12 months to live.
She began another course of radiotherapy.
Then, her medical team secured a wonder drug called Talazoparib, which is not currently available on the NHS.
Natalie says she is responding well to the new medication.
She said it has been “devastating” to find out the cancer had returned – but described the drug as “another wee bit of good news”.
She said: “My scan at the beginning of the month showed the cancer was stable and there was a slight reduction in the lump in my breast.
“As well as the drug I’m also trying alternative medicines including cannabis oil, eating a plant-based low sugar diet and drinking ionised water.
“I know nothing can cure what I have but doctors hope it will delay the inevitable.
“I will try anything to be around for my son for even one day longer.”
She added: “Zeke keeps me going. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for him. I can guarantee I would have given up the fight a long time ago if he wasn’t here. He is such a kind wee boy and his banter is amazing.”
Natalie has been overwhelmed her husband’s kindness, too.
She said: “Idrees has also been my rock throughout my cancer battle.
“We had only been going out for 18 months when I got my first diagnosis. I don’t know how he has coped. He is so kind and generous and nothing is a bother. The thought of leaving them both behind breaks my heart and I keep fighting for them.”
Idress said all he had ever wanted was to be married to Natalie to “complete our little family”.
He described the day as “a fairytale”.
“Thanks to the charity and the kindness of strangers our dreams have come true and for that I will be forever grateful,” he said.
With the wedding over, Natalie has begun planning her funeral.
She says she doesn’t want her husband to stress, and has been writing down instructions and the music she wants played.
She has also been making birthday cards for her son to open when she is no longer alive.
She said: “It has been the hardest thing I have ever had to do in my life – it makes it so real.”
Idrees proposed to Natalie in January 2020. They had planned to wait a few years and save up for the wedding.
Natalie said: “I was lying in bed feeling exhausted after a chemo session, Idrees called me downstairs.
“Him and Zeke were both standing there, dressed up smartly in suits. In front of them was a jigsaw puzzle with a picture of us on it and the words, “Will you marry me?” There were rose petals all over the floor.
“I hurried back upstairs to get my wig, thinking, “I’m not going to be bald for my romantic proposal.” It was so special. Because the prognosis looked hopeful, we decided we’d save up and wait a few years to marry. I pictured a snowy wedding in Switzerland.”
Natalie, whose bridesmaids Charlene and Debbie Mcinally organised a hen party for her last month, added: “That wasn’t to be, but I wouldn’t change a thing about yesterday. We have planned a family holiday or honeymoon in August but we will have to see how things go.
“I believe I will get longer than the doctors have been saying.
“They had given me until the end of August or beginning of September, but I feel okay and my results are the same if not better than they were this time last year. So there is definitely hope.
“It is hope and my two beautiful boys who keep me going.”