The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation Plans Dream Weddings for People With Terminal Illnesses
Weddings are usually a day to remember for any bride and groom, but for Naomi Thomas, her wedding gave her a deeper sense of meaning and purpose. Three years before her wedding date, Naomi was diagnosed with breast cancer, a diagnosis which would later serve as the inspiration for The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation, an organization that plans weddings for those with terminal illnesses.
In 2009, at just 26-years-old, Naomi was planning to get married to the love of her life, Graham. A year later, after finding a lump in her breast, she was told she had secondary breast cancer — a terminal type of cancer with a survival rate of only five years.
“The key for me was acceptance,” Naomi told The Mighty. “Once I’d accepted that I was going to die, I could get on with living my life. There is simply nothing I can change and therefore, why waste time worrying about it or being depressed or upset. This is the hand I’ve been dealt.”
After undergoing a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and radiation, Naomi got pregnant in February 2010 with her son Devon, who was born on September 23.
Naomi, who lives in Somerset, England, still had dreams of getting married, but the financial burden of treatment and being unable to return to work fully weighed heavily on her. That’s when a local wedding planner and other wedding suppliers generously offered to do her wedding for as little money as possible.
Naomi and Graham were married on June 6, 2012. The support she received for her own wedding inspired her to create a charitable wedding foundation. She wanted to help those with terminal illnesses, just as others had helped her. That’s when The Wedding Wishing Well Foundation was formed.
“Our aim is that none of our couples get into debt because of their wedding,” Naomi said.
From organizing weddings in castles in Scotland to performing small ceremonies in hospital rooms, Naomi has done it all for terminally ill brides and grooms.
One of these couples was Emma and Jamie, whom she clicked with from their very first meeting. During the planning process, Emma spent most of her time caring for Jamie, so it was up to Naomi to plan everything and make sure it was what the couple wanted.
“We 100 percent got it right, and the atmosphere on their big day was full of love and laughter,” Naomi said. “Although Jamie passed away around eight weeks later, Emma still fundraises for us in his memory and we have become firm friends.”
It’s people like Jamie, and many others facing life-threatening diagnoses, who inspire Naomi and show her she can be strong all the way to the end. They’ve also shown Graham — who now has an amazing support network of friends who have been through the exact same thing — that he can care for his wife as her health gets worse.
But it’s Naomi’s son, Devon, who inspires her the most.
“I get up each day hoping I’m a role model to him and I want him to see the good we are doing at the charity,” she said, “He occasionally attends events with us, so he gets to see the impact we are making. He says he’s proud of me… what more do you need in life?”
Naomi’s positive outlook and huge heart are a testament to her strength and character, and it’s all because of one word: acceptance. Once she realized she wasn’t alone in her cancer journey, she was able to fully accept her diagnosis.
“Acceptance is so important to be able to move on,” she said. “If your cancer is curable, then look to the future as much as you can. There is life after cancer, curable or not!”
Naomi has helped many with cancer and life-threatening illnesses celebrate the beauty of life in one special day, and for that, we thank her.
Photos courtesy of Tara Statton Photography