Battling Stephanie beats brain tumour before dream wedding - with video
A YOUNG couple, who cancelled their wedding after the bride was diagnosed with a brain tumour the size of a tennis ball, have married at last.
Stephanie Parr said she thought she was going to die after doctors discovered the growth inside her head.
The 32-year-old and fiancé Neil – grandson of 1940s Derby County defender Jack Parr – had only been engaged a few months and had arranged to be married last October.
But the news and subsequent surgery meant they had to scrap the plans while they waited to see if Stephanie would survive.
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The happy couple finally walked down the aisle at the Red Lion Pub and Bistro, in Stonedge, on Saturday.
After the ceremony, Neil said: "It's mad. Five months ago, we were in intensive care and now we're here."
Stephanie said: "It's been a fantastic day. I'd like to say how grateful we are to everyone at the Queen's Medical Centre neurosurgery unit who were amazing.
"Everyone at the venue has been great, too. We couldn't have asked for more."
As happy as the day was on Saturday, it seemed impossible to Stephanie that it would ever happen after doctors found the tumour in April last year.
Stephanie, of Meadow Brook Close, Littleover, said: "In December 2011, I was really fit and healthy. I met Neil through my brother, David, and we got on straight away.
"We have the same sense of humour and we just knew we were right for each other. Within three months, we'd moved in together and, within eight, Neil had proposed.
"He did it on the way back down from climbing Snowdon. I thought it would be at the top and was just feeling disappointed when he stopped and surprised me."
But their joy was cut short when Neil, 31, woke one night and heard Stephanie making an unusual sound.
She said: "He tried to wake me up but he couldn't. So he called an ambulance and I was taken to the Royal Derby Hospital. The doctors there said it looked like I'd suffered a seizure."
Stephanie was taken in for tests and, in February last year, was told she needed a brain scan in April.
She went to fetch the results with her mum, Alison O'Connor.
Stephanie said: "I thought it might be epilepsy, that was all. I genuinely wasn't that bothered. I was in no pain.
"But, when I got in there, they asked who was with me. I said 'Mum' and I suddenly knew something was up."
She was told she had a brain tumour 7cm across and had had it for years.
She said: "Until you hear something like that, you'll never quite know how it feels. I thought that was it.
"I saw the fact that I just found the person I really loved, I saw the fact that we were set to be married and have children and, in one second, I knew it was all gone, finished. I was devastated."
Doctors told her it was not an immediate threat. They classed it as level two out of a possible four – not entirely benign but not yet fatal.
Stephanie was given the choice to either "watch and wait" or have it removed. She went for the latter.
She said: "Neil was in Leicester at the time and I didn't want to call him but I had to. He said he nearly crashed the car a few times getting home."
An August date was picked for the surgery, meaning the October wedding plans had to be ditched. The focus was on getting Stephanie through those months.
She said: "I work for Derbyshire County Council and they gave me time off for a while. Then I started to work from home.
"Neil had been made redundant from Egg, so he kept me company. We just tried to carry on as normal."
The tumour was removed but that was not quite the end of the story.
Stephanie said: "I'm waiting until we get back from our honeymoon in Mexico to get the latest update.
"It's not like it's gone forever now. It can come back and it never quite leaves the back of my mind.
"But I'm so happy we've been able to get married and be together. I've learned so much over the past year, not the least of which is that every second of this life is precious. This wedding is even more special because of what has happened."