Community helps Island couple get married so terminally-ill mother can attend

Couple plans wedding in face of aggressive form of cancer

Hurried along by a cancer diagnosis, the West Shore community is planning a wedding 14 years in the making.

Rachelle Kipp and Mike Schepaniuk met through work and found out very quickly that they were right for each other.

“Within the first couple months of dating we knew we loved each other,” Kipp said. “We didn’t want to leave each other’s sides.”

The couple has been engaged for eight years, but did not have any plans for a wedding any time soon.

That changed when Schepaniuk’s mother developed an aggressive form of cancer.

“It’s taken over a lot of her body… it’s shutting her down,” Kipp said. “If this is one thing I can do to show her how much I care about her and how much I love her son, then I will do that.”

Kipp said they were planning on getting married at the courthouse. Searching for a justice of the peace, Kipp posted in a community Facebook group.

“Within 15 minutes I had over 100 comments of people offering different services to make sure I would have one of the best days of my life,” Kipp said.

Community members stepped up to help the couple with decorations, a cake and even a dress, turning what was to be a courthouse wedding into an intimate ceremony held at their home.

“My head is spinning with emotion,” Kipp said. “I can’t thank them enough… if it wasn’t for all these people this wouldn’t be happening the way it is happening.”

On Wednesday morning, Kipp said she received a message from her mother in-law telling Kipp how much she loves her and how her faith in humanity is restored. Kipp said her mother in-law is ecstatic about being able to see the two of them marry.

“Her own words were she never knew that there is so much love in this world,” Kipp said. “That made me tear up a bit.”

Schepaniuk’s stepfather also has an incurable form of bone cancer. Kipp said both she and Schepaniuk will have close family at the ceremony. Schepaniuk’s mother has chosen medically assisted death for her end-of-life and Kipp said they are not sure how long they will have with her after the wedding.

“She’s one of the strongest women I know… it just makes you want to spend every last second with her and make it happy,” Kipp said.

The couple marries Feb. 16 and Kipp is happy her mother in-law will be able to see it happen.

“[Schepaniuk] is just the most amazing person. His mom has done the most amazing job raising this boy,” Kipp said. “I can’t thank her enough for giving me that part of my life because I would be lost without him. He’s my best friend.”

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