Engaged Mich. Couple Move Up Wedding Date After They're Both Diagnosed with Cancer 8 Days Apart

Clay Slenk and Mariah Nelesen hoped to wed on June 10, but have changed their special day to April 9

An engaged couple in Michigan is living life to the fullest.

After getting engaged on the day after Christmas in 2020, Clay Slenk and Mariah Nelesen planned to tie the knot this summer. However, just after sending save-the-dates to their loved ones, the bride- and groom-to-be were both diagnosed with cancer within eight days of each other, KTLA reports. Now, they're getting married on April 9.

"We had a long engagement (and) were hoping to get married June 10 of this year," Slenk, 24, told the outlet.

Things changed for the couple after they both received life-altering phone calls in January.

Nelesen, 23, shared with KTLA, "I got a phone call Jan. 11th of this year that I had ovarian cancer. That's not a call that anyone expects to receive."

Slenk received a similar call just over a week later. "All of a sudden, I got a phone call at like 8 o'clock, and my doctor was like, 'I want you to go to Spectrum right now. I think you have Leukemia.' "

A post on the couple's Caring Bridge page explained that he was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, which "required immediate treatment and is being followed by a long hospital stay."

Mariah Nelesen and Clay Slenk

It added that Nelesen was diagnosed with adult granulosa cell tumor ovarian cancer, "a low-grade cancer that requires treatment including both surgery and chemotherapy."

As Slenk was treated in a local hospital for more than 40 days, Nelesen took steps to freeze her eggs, per KTLA.

"Now, we're into it deep," Slenk told the news outlet. "And it's not just one person, it's both of us."

Still, keeping an optimistic attitude, Slenk continued, "Why be angry? If I'm angry and frustrated and down and negative, all it's going to do is make this day that much worse."

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He went on to share that an upcoming stem cell transplant served as inspiration for the pair's new wedding date, telling KTLA, "We moved up our wedding date so we could be married during that time. So she would be here to take care of me and we could go through that hard part together."

Opening up about their altered wedding plans, Nelesen said their diagnoses helped them focus on what's truly important.

"I was caught up in planning and excited for all the little details, like the venue we were going to be at and the food that we were going to have," she said. "(Now), replanning the wedding, I've just thrown all of that out the window. It's going to be a special day no matter what and we're going to have burgers and brats on the grill."

"It won't be easy going forward, but we know that it'll be more meaningful to go through it together," Slenk shared, adding that his wedding vows have changed since the news.

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He continued, "There'll be a little more sickness before the health, but that's alright."

A GoFundMe for the couple has raised more than $15,000 of its $25,000 goal in an effort to cover medical bills, home payments, the income they've lost, and gifts for their wedding and honeymoon.

" 'In sickness and in health...' These are familiar words for many couples as they often are spoken on a person's wedding day," the page reads. "However, no one knows these words better than Clay and Mariah. Their steps toward their wedding day and the changes they've needed to make represent a very real commitment to each other and trust in the Lord."

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