Daughters Put on Pre-Wedding and First Dance Photo Shoot with Dad Dying of Cancer
Kaylee and Ashlee Halbert staged a wedding dance with their father after he was diagnosed with brain cancer
A father battling a rare and deadly form of cancer was able to share a wedding dance with his two daughters after the family found out he only had months to live.
In a Facebook post on Oct. 20, Nicole Clowson Halbert explained that her husband, 51-year-old Jason Halbert, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in April. The type of cancer, glioblastoma multiforme, can be treated with radiation and chemotherapy, but even a positive outlook only gives patients a 15-month lifespan after diagnosis.
“Jason was a superhero as he completed the six weeks of radiation and a couple rounds of chemo that followed,” Halbert, 41, explained in her post. “But, three weeks ago, we found out the cancer had leaked into his [cerebrospinal fluid].”
The condition, called leptomeningeal disease, occurs when cancer cells migrate to the spinal fluid and can cause double vision, nausea, weakness, and difficulty walking, according to Mount Sinai.
Doctors only gave her husband two to three months to live after finding out about this latest complication, Halbert — who shares daughters Kaylee, 18, and Ashlee, 16, with Jason — wrote.
“Your heart stops, you can’t hear, your breath becomes shallow,” she said. “How were we supposed to tell our daughters? How were we supposed to plan our future?”
After telling Kaylee and Ashlee the heartbreaking news, the family was determined to make the most of their time left together. Since both of the girls had always dreamed of sharing a dance with their father on their wedding days, they decided to “pre-create” the moment with family friend Shalonda Chaddock of Chubby Cheeks Photography.
After banding together with friends who all pitched in to gather what was needed, the daughters shared their dance with Jason on Oct. 14.
“The day of the dance, the sun was shining through gray rain clouds, sunlight mixing with rain showers. I realized, afterwards, how appropriate the weather was for this day,” Halbert wrote on Facebook. “That is what we’ve been doing through this whole journey, trying to find the light among the darkness, the sunshine in the rain.”
The moment couldn’t have been more special for the two future bride-to-bes.
“It was wonderful,” Halbert told Today Parents. “It was really the community that pulled together to make it happen for us. It was just a little request that my girls had.”
“We were lucky, because a lot of kids lose their parents suddenly and aren’t able to recreate a memory,” she added. “We were lucky that we knew.”
Halbert said she was proud of how her husband remained strong for his two girls.
“I was so proud of him because he fought through feeling miserable to do this for them,” she told Today. “He was not going to get to see them in a wedding gown or in that moment. So now he has kind of that image. So, it was important for him to be able to know that that’s what it could be.”
“It was heartbreaking but joyful. I hated that we had to do it, but I loved that we could do it,” she continued.
Halbert said she hopes their special moment inspires others to make the most of the time they have with loved ones.
“Our hope is that it inspires someone else to be able to take the time to change their perspective of something awful and make it beautiful,” Halbert told Today. “Find the joy in the journey.”