Sometimes life takes an unexpected turn and there’s nothing you can do but forge ahead, putting one foot in front of the other.
Patrick Clapham, 41, and Beca Harper, 42, know this well. They married in the lecture hall at Beverly Hospital on Saturday. Patrick, an assistant librarian at the Peabody Institute in Danvers, has been a patient at the hospital since early January.
The two have been dating for nearly seven years — and often discussed getting married – but in August of 2018, they got news Patrick had esophageal gastric junction cancer.
“They had every reason to believe he’d survive,” said Beca.
Patrick received chemotherapy and radiation but the scans showed the disease had spread to his lymph nodes and, later, his bones. As it turned out his cancer was extremely aggressive.
“The chemo didn’t work,” Beca said. “All of a sudden he went from Stage II aiming for curative care, to Stage IV and disease management.”
The couple decided to get married. While at the hospital, Patrick said to Beca, “This is not what I planned. I planned to get a full time librarian position and marry you.”
Beca unaware Patrick had been intending propose just prior to his hospitalization responded “We can still get married”
Patrick simply stated “OK.”
The cancer is “moving very fast,” Beca said, adding doctors estimated Patrick has two to three months left. Even so, the goodness they’ve encountered hasn’t gone unnoticed for a minute.
“People from the hospital have gotten flowers, offered to set up, they’re providing snacks and refreshments for the guests,” she said.
Staff from Beverly Hospital, as well as many members of the community, have helped the couple plan their nuptials. The care staff from the 6th floor chipped in for a deejay. They hospital staff got decorations for the hall.
“It has been more than just a place to get married,” Beca said. “Everyone from the hospital wanted to make it a wedding and it’s so much more than we could have asked for.”
For now, they will wait and see what happens day to day.
“Everybody has been so kind,” Beca said.