Daniel and Becca
This wedding was arranged in less than 48 hours. Marriages or civil partnerships in the UK require 28 days notice at registry offices but there are special circumstances that can fast track this process. Permission was given less than 24 hours before the wedding took place for Dan and Becca.
For the most part, it felt like a very ordinary wedding day and it was easy to forget just how poorly Dan was with his incredibly positive attitude but every now and then I was reminded that this was no ordinary day and that Dan was suffering more than he let on. While he was changing into his shirt, he showed me the tumours that were visible all over his body, most notably the upper left side of his body which caused him pain. It was also apparent that his left arm and hand had completely swollen up due to a buildup of fluid where his tumours were blocking the normal flow. This meant he had difficulty getting dressed. Despite this, I didn’t hear him complain once and his smiled beamed on his face for most of the day.
The wedding took place at the local registry office in Weston Super Mare. The entire occasion hadn’t yet been revealed on social media so was kept very private to just the closest family and friends in attendance. The service itself was rather positive. Having shot weddings almost weekly for the last few years, I rarely take notice the words being read by the registrar, but this wedding was different. Every line read struck a chord and moved me due to the love I was witnessing. It was the first time I have seen a registrar brought to tears by a wedding.
After the service Dan wanted some couple and group photos. The first spot was by St Nicholas’ Church, situated on a very steep hill with stunning views of Weston Super Mare. The church was open for visitors and they kindly let us in for photos. The second spot was a small secluded area overlooking Birnbeck Pier. This was just for Dan and Becca. The spot held meaning for Dan as it wasn’t only the place where he would come to on his own if he needed some quiet time, but also where he proposed. I just let them be a couple and shot what I saw rather than direct anything at this point. I wanted to capture everything as real and true as possible.
As the day came to an end and everyone was in high spirits. Dan achieved one of his dreams of marrying his beautiful wife Becca. It was so easy to forget how poorly he was. I said my goodbyes just before the party drew to a end. Dan and I got on really well throughout the day. I hugged him tightly and told him that I look forward to seeing him again really soon as we had arranged for both of them to come and stay with me in Cornwall for a bit of a honeymoon and I would take them surfing.
The drive home was just under 3 hours and it was what I needed for some reflection on not only the day but life in general. I had just met a man who, despite being in terrible pain and sickness and god only knows what sort of mental torment comes with knowing your fate, was the most positive person I have had the pleasure and honour of meeting. I am guilty of taking life for granted too often as I believe we all are at times. Dan decided not to let his diagnosis get him down but he used it to not only live his life to the fullest, but also by sharing his journey with the world, he inspired thousands, if not millions. People from all walks of life, going through their own traumatic experiences had contacted Dan to tell him how he had changed their lives. His journey has helped other cancer patients and even prevented suicides and continues to do so as his legacy lives on.
We chatted lots after the wedding day. I managed to pull an all nighter and edit his photos in just under a day so that he could enjoy the images for as long as possible. Him and Becca were very happy with images and spent the following days printing them all and framing them around their apartment. We continued to exchange messages and we discussed them both coming down to Cornwall and him being there on my Birthday. He was very keen for him and Becca to take me out for a meal for it. As the days got closer, Dan got sicker, much sicker. He posted a video saying that he was in hospice and was hoping to be out soon. His videos and updates slowly got more infrequent. I messaged him to tell him what he meant to me and how much of an honour it was to get to meet him and he told me how much he would love to hang out again and if it wasn’t for him getting sicker he would have been down in Cornwall with me that day. We never got to meet again and he never came down to Cornwall.
September 28th, just after midday, I received a message from his wife to let me know that Daniel had passed away peacefully a few hours earlier. Even though I knew it was coming, I was deeply saddened by this news. My heart hurt for not only what he had gone through, but for his close family and friends. The world had lost a true hero that day.
So how do I summarize this wedding? How can I put into words what this day meant? Quite simply it was love in its truest form. When given mere days to live, the only thing on Daniels mind was to marry his incredibly supportive lady. Becca had never left his side throughout their entire relationship.
To bring a positive note to this post, I want to tell you all to live like Dan lived. To embrace and thoroughly enjoy every day we have no matter what our situation. Do not take life for granted and whatever you do, don’t give in and don’t give up! And finally in the words of Dan, ‘See ya later, ta-ta, Bye bye’.
Please follow and support his social media which is still being updated and run by his family.
Daniel ‘PeeWeeToms’ Thomas
December 1985 – September 2018