A COUPLE told they had cancer just five days apart from each other have celebrated a dream wedding down under.
Liz and Graham Biner, from Rayleigh, tied the knot in Cairns, Australia, as part of a dream holiday through Singapore and Thailand.
It’s a far cry from the dark days of 2008, when the couple were both diagnosed with cancer.
The nightmare began when Liz felt a lump in her breast while she was feeding her four-month-old son, Wilfred.
Her GP dismissed it as nothing more than a blocked milk duct, but referred her as a matter of routine to Southend Hospital’s breast unit.
After a series of tests and biopsies, doctors told the mum-of-four, then just 41, she had breast cancer.
But things got worse when, just five days later, her partner Graham, 37, was told he had kidney cancer.
Graham had gone to his GP after finding blood in his urine, and had nearly missed the ultrasound scan, which was to confirm the cancer, because the appointment fell the day after Liz had been diagnosed.
From those frightening first days the couple, of Daws Heath Road, have put their efforts in to getting better and have focused on their children.
Liz, now 42, said: “We’ve had to keep going for the children. To be honest, we didn’t have that many dark days because we didn’t have time to think – as much as possible we arranged our treatments around looking after Wilfred.”
Graham underwent a four-hour operation to remove the cancerous kidney and fortunately, surgeons found out it had not spread.
The risks for kidney cancer are highest in the over 50s who smoke and drink, so the chances of Graham contracting the disease were low.
He said: “To be honest, we just laughed about it. What else could we do?”
Meanwhile Liz, a former financial adviser with a building society, had eight sessions of chemotherapy in order to shrink the lump. Mid-way through the treatment, she underwent a mastectomy with follow-up radiotherapy.
It was during those gruelling days that Liz decided to plan the couple’s wedding as a focus for the future.
The couple, with Wilfred, now almost two, and Liz’s three older children, Lili, 18, Annabelle, 16, and 11-year-old William, flew to Australia where the ceremony took place.
Once back home, the family threw a party and asked guests to donate money instead of wedding gifts, as a way of saying thanks to Southend Hospital.
Liz added: “The staff did a brilliant job and we wanted to help.”
They managed to raise £2,000, which will be used to buy a urinalysis machine for help in early detection of diabetes, which can be a side-effect of radiotherapy, plus two wheelchairs for the hospital’s radiotherapy department.