A terminally-ill cancer patient who had her arm amputated to bide her more time has married the man of her dreams.
Shannon Lynch, now 21, has battled a rare cancer in her elbow for the last six years and had her arm amputated in 2017 to stem the progress of the disease.
Her brother introduced her to Ashley Lynch, 18, in 2018 and the couple fell in love ‘instantly’.
Tragically, Mrs Lynch’s cancer returned in May this year and was terminal. The couple had been together barely half a year.
Doctors gave Mrs Lynch just a year to live because she had untreatable tumours in her lungs, after the cancer had spread there.
She was able to walk down the aisle in October this year, wearing a wig due to the hair loss from her chemotherapy.
The couple, from Edenbridge, Kent, are now making the most of the short time they have together as husband and wife.
Shannon Lynch, 21, is terminally ill with cancer. She married Ashley, 18, in October (pictured) after having her arm amputated to bide her more time
The couple fell in love ‘instantly’. They are now making the most of their short time together as husband and wife. Pictured at their wedding
Ms Lynch has battled a rare cancer in her elbow for the last six years
Mrs Lynch said: ‘My wedding day meant everything to me, and it’s lovely to be able to show the world that I’m devoted to the one I love for the rest of my life.
‘It doesn’t matter how long I have with him, as long as I’m with him and we are happy.
‘Ashley and I haven’t really spoken about the future as we would rather forget that I’m going to die soon and think about it when I get to that stage.
‘It is difficult for Ashley but he understands and is grateful for all the time we do get together.
‘He told me that he is terrified that every morning he wakes up, I could have gone in the night.’
Her husband Mr Lynch said: ‘I’m not going to try and hide from the fact that I will lose her to something that I have no control over.
‘It’s the hardest thing I have to face in my life and every time I think about it, I almost cry.
‘In all honesty, I am trying to make the best memories I can with Shannon. I want to make her dreams come true.’
Mrs Lynch’s battle with cancer began when she was just 15 years old after she visited the doctor with a lump in her right elbow in June 2013.
She was initially dismissed with doctors putting it down to ‘tennis elbow’, but after the lump grew bigger and more painful, she was sent for an ultrasound, blood test and biopsy.
In July 2013, Mrs Lynch was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma – a rare type of cancer that affects soft tissues.
Mrs Lynch was sent for an ultrasound, blood test and biopsy when a lump in her elbow grew bigger (pictured). She was 15 at the time
Mrs Lynch’s right arm was amputated just above her elbow in August 2017 (pictured)
WHAT ARE SARCOMAS?
Sarcomas are a group of rare cancers affecting the tissues that connect, support and surround other body structures and organs.
Tissues that can be affected by sarcomas include fat, muscle, blood vessels, deep skin tissues, tendons and ligaments.
Sarcomas can develop in almost any part of the body, including the legs, arms and the trunk (torso).
They account for around one in every 100 cancers diagnosed in the UK. More than 5,000 new cases are diagnosed every year.
There are often no obvious symptoms in the early stages, although sufferers may notice a soft, painless lump under the skin or deeper, that can’t easily be moved around and gets bigger over time.
People should see your GP if they have a worrying lump or any other troublesome symptoms.
A lump the size of a golf ball or larger should be regarded as suspicious and needs to be investigated urgently.
The five-year survival rate for sarcoma, which affects around 5,000 new people every years in the UK, is 55 per cent.
In the US, 16,000 people are diagnosed with sarcomas, the majority of which are in the bones.
The teenager underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment before having an operation in March 2014 to remove the lump.
She said: ‘I didn’t feel as scared as you’d expect when they said it was cancer – I just knew the most important thing was to fight and that I would concur everything standing in my way.
‘It was just a case of whatever would happen, would happen.
‘I felt bad as my mum was forced to come with me because of my age and she missed out seeing the rest of my family.
‘I hated the chemotherapy but I had no choice. I just felt weak and ill all the time, it just drains the energy from you.’
Mrs Lynch had check-ups every three months to make sure the cancer hadn’t returned but was devastated when another lump appeared in July 2017.
The cancer was back in the form of a grade three sarcoma, and in order to stop the cancer from spreading further, the doctors had to amputate Mrs Lynch’s right arm.
Mrs Lynch said: ‘If I didn’t have my right arm amputated, then I would have got tumours in my lungs a lot earlier. It was simple – either die or have it removed. So it set it in stone for me.’
Mrs Lynch’s right arm was amputated just above her elbow in August 2017.
Mr Lynch said: ‘What made me fall for Shannon was that she was so open and also because she had the cutest laugh in the world’
In July 2019, Mrs Lynch was devastated to hear that she had less than a year to live
She said: ‘When I woke up after surgery, the first thing I did was look at my arm and saw they saved a lot more than I’d expected – I thought my entire arm would have to come off.’
It was in December 2018 when Mrs Lynch joined her brother to play video games on Xbox Live that she got chatting to his friend Mr Lynch.
The pair started talking every day on the gaming platform and just a few weeks later, they met in person and it was love at first sight.
Mrs Lynch said: ‘Something just clicked between us and then we started chatting loads. We met up for a drink at Costa Coffee and I just fell for him immediately.’
Mr and Mrs Lynch officially started dating in January 2019, but after a few months of romance, disaster struck.
Mrs Lynch was taken into hospital with a kidney infection in May 2019, but as the kidney treatment worked, she suddenly had extreme chest pain.
Taken for a CT scan, doctors saw that Mrs Lynch’s lungs were filling with blood, caused by three tumours inside her lungs.
Doctors told Mrs Lynch that her cancer had returned and this time it was incurable. In July 2019, Mrs Lynch was devastated to hear that she had less than a year to live.
She said: ‘My whole world turned upside down. I was terrified as I know how hard it is to treat lung cancers.
‘When they told me I had less than a year to live, I was shocked as I thought I would have longer than that.
‘The doctors said that chemotherapy would give me extra time here, but it wouldn’t save me, which was heartbreaking to hear.
Mrs Lynch said: ‘Our wedding was beautiful. I wouldn’t have changed it in any way’
The couple officially started dating in January 2019 and were only together a few months before the devastating news that Mrs Lynch’s cancer was terminal
Mrs Lynch wore a wig for her wedding service but removed the brunette do for the reception
‘They said I had anywhere from a few months to a year, but I’m still fighting after the few months so I am pleased to have made it to now.’
Mrs Lynch’s devastating diagnosis only brought the couple closer, as Mr Lynch took on the role of being his girlfriend’s carer.
A month after they found out that Mrs Lynch would die in the next year, Mr Lynch surprised her with a ring.
Mrs Lynch said: ‘We were at home when Ashley came over to me with one hand hidden behind his back.
‘He said that he wanted to be with me for the rest of his life and then he got down on one knee and asked me if I wanted to marry him.
‘I said yes and was desperately trying not to cry – I couldn’t believe it, I was just so excited for our future together.’
Mr Lynch said: ‘What made me fall for Shannon was that she was so open and also because she had the cutest laugh in the world.
‘Over time, the more I learned about her, the more I fell in love. I proposed because I honestly thought it was time – from the first day I met her, I wanted to marry her.’
The young couple tied the knot on October 26 in front of 100 friends and family members at their local church.
Mrs Lynch said: ‘Our wedding was beautiful. I wouldn’t have changed it in any way.
‘I wore a wig for the service as I wanted some nice pictures of me with hair in my wedding dress, but it was just too itchy to wear at the reception.
‘When they pronounced us man and wife, I felt so extremely happy and excited for mine and Ash’s future.’
Since the wedding, the couple have happily settled into married life and are making the most of the short time they have together.
Mrs Lynch is currently going through chemotherapy to extend her time with her new husband and the pair are focusing on enjoying every day.
She said: ‘Married life is better than I ever thought it could be, it’s better than people say it is, I’m always happy when I’m with him.
‘We are trying to make memories together but it’s hard at the same time because I can get ill and tired very quickly.
‘I am happy for all the time I get with my husband, my family and my friends.
‘I’ve come to terms with it now – whatever happens, happens. I can’t choose how long I can live for, I’m just grateful for the time I do get.’