Award winning performer David Lee Nelson has been all over the country, doing a one-man show based on his life story. He was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer at the age of 38, and his comedy show is about finding hope in the most unlikely of places – something he says happened to him again just this month.
David was supposed to marry his fiancée, Jaimie Malphrus, on Friday, March 20.
“On my way back from being on the road, I got sick,” says David. “I had severe pain in my hip and back, so I ended up in the hospital the week before I was supposed to be married. Then, the coronavirus happened.”
Not only did the hospitalization mean ruined wedding plans, it also meant most medical facilities were on lockdown due to the COVID-19 outbreak. While Jaimie was already staying with David, other family members weren’t allowed in the building. Hearing the pair talking in disappointment about their derailed wedding plans, the nurses at Bon Secours jumped into action to keep their hopes and dreams alive. They all agreed they would help David and Jaimie by planning a wedding at the hospital instead.
“The more we talked about it, the better I started to feel as the week went on, and the crazier the world seemed, the less silly it seemed to get married amidst it all,” David shares.
The nursing staff ordered in food from the same restaurant where the couple had eaten right after getting engaged back in August. They made arrangements for flowers, a cake and even got Jaimie’s family to drop off her dress at the hospital.
On the morning of March 20, David had radiation. By that afternoon, he and Jaimie were saying their vows in the otherwise empty Hawkins Family Center for Adolescent and Young Adults on the 5th floor of St. Francis Downtown. While the couple’s family couldn’t attend the wedding due to visitor restrictions, some of the staff members stood in as guests and took pictures of the ceremony for the couple to share later.
“It was just really beautiful,” recalls Jaimie. “I think the nurses were just as excited as we were, and it wouldn’t have happened without them.”
The couple says they were touched by the fact that they hadn’t know a single person who was at the wedding for more than five days. Yet those staff members were the ones who had pulled everything together, as if they were part of the family.
“I’m still weeping thinking about it, how invested everyone got. I’m glad we got to do it there. It was unique, but par for the course,” says David’s new bride.
The newlyweds are now back at home, and doing well.