Cancer diagnosis at 31 weeks pregnant: Brave mum-to-be weds

Charlie Nicholson found out she had cancer on Monday, and will wed Shawn Elsmore in the chapel at Auckland City Hospital today, before delivering her son early.
Charlie Nicholson found out she had cancer on Monday, and will wed Shawn Elsmore in the chapel at Auckland City Hospital today, before delivering her son early. NZ Herald

LAST week Charlie Nicholson was like any other expectant mother, 31 weeks pregnant and preparing for the arrival of her first baby. On Monday, the 38-year-old Gisborne woman found out she has an aggressive form of cancer.

Now facing a battle for her own life and that of her unborn son, Ryder, she is fighting back as best she can. Today, she will marry her soulmate Shawn Elsmore in the chapel at Auckland City Hospital before she delivers their child early and begins treatment.

"Everything was so good," she told the Weekend Herald from her hospital bed last night. "I had just finished work and was ready to kick back in my little beach house and have my baby and begin having a family and now I'm staring down the barrel of a gun."

Ms Nicholson said she was diagnosed with late stage metastatic melanoma after noticing a pair of moles "pop up" on her chest two weeks ago.

The results returned bad news a week later and, while her unborn baby was unaffected, further tests on Monday revealed the cancer had spread to her organs.

On Wednesday night, when the couple arrived in Auckland from their Wainui home, Mr Elsmore proposed to Ms Nicholson at her hospital bedside.

"I can't wait," she said. "It's all come together so amazingly, we have got some amazing people around us and all my friends and family are coming from far and wide across the country and I am so lucky that they are dropping everything to be here."

Mr Elsmore, 35, said the couple have known each other for about 15 years but only became an item about 18-months ago.

"Charlie is just an amazing person, it's taken us this long to actually become an item and it had just got better and better and life was just running really smoothly.

"I believe that she is my soulmate and I believe I have found the right person to spend the rest of my life with and hopefully we can get through these troubles and have a beautiful future with our son-to-be."

Ms Nicholson was born in Australia and despite moving here when she was 4 years old, must return there to get free medical treatment.

Her prognosis remained unclear but she would know more next week.

"So we are not sure if I can fly to Australia and have the baby there, or have the baby here and then fly there for treatment."

Her friend, Kiri Pengally, set up a Givealittle page for the couple to raise money for the family as they travel to Australia.

"We are still in a state of shock. The reason I have done this is that she is just one of the most gentlest souls you have ever met. She just draws people to her and the outlook for her is, well, it's pretty grim. Now this time is about building memories for Charlie to share with Ryder as he gets older."

The wedding was due to begin in the afternoon, followed by a casual reception. Ms Nicholson said the couple had been given clearance from doctors to spend the weekend at The Langham, a gift from Ms Nicholson's midwife in Gisborne.

"It's so exciting. I have got so much support, we couldn't do this ourselves. It's been a tumultuous week and it hasn't been without its panic attacks."

- NZ Herald

Topics:  cancer pregnancy wedding

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