A Kelowna, B.C., woman was less than two months away from marrying her fiancé when she was diagnosed with aggressive bone cancer.
Chelsea Strauss and her now-husband were set to tie the knot in early May, but she was admitted to Kelowna General Hospital two days prior to the wedding, and was told she had to stay for 48 hours straight without having a fever.
She was advised she might not make it to their special day. Thankfully, with some hard work from the doctors and nurses, Strauss was able to leave for six hours and attend her own wedding — a day she says she wouldn’t change for the world.
“It ended up being a really special day, all things considered,” described Strauss.
“When we got back to the hospital later that night, all the nurses had put up posters and just married signs and pedals and flowers and a card. They all cheered us on when we came into the ward and it was really special.”
Strauss underwent surgery a month and a half ago. Now, she’s preparing herself for three rounds of chemotherapy starting on Wednesday in order to ensure there are no remaining cancer cells. She’s keeping a positive mindset heading into it thanks to the support of friends and family.
“I’m feeling pretty good, I just want to get this out of the way so I can focus on physiotherapy and get back to being able to walk and live life again,” explains Strauss.
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“I couldn’t do this without my family, friends and the community who’ve all stepped up in so many ways.”
At the night of her wedding, Strauss says her uncle approached her and her husband with the idea of starting up a team at the Tour de Cure bike ride, put on by the BC Cancer Society. So far, her uncle, Brad Gilbert, has raised over $18,000, with a goal of $20,000.
Strauss says Gilbert has been instrumental in her battle with cancer.
“He’s just very inspiring and I’m going to be apart of this for years to come, so I’m just glad that he kind of brought it to our front door and sort of started getting the ball rolling on it, said Strauss.
“Now it can be one of those things that we keep close to our heart and we participate in every year.”
Gilbert’s daughter is a cancer survivor herself, and this year will mark his 10th year participating in the Tour de Cure ride. He says supporting cancer research is something he’s very passionate about.
“Chelsea’s been an inspiration to us all,” Gilbert tells Global.
“We’re there to help support not only her, but others that may be in the future experiencing the same process. Chelsea understands how important that is, and we’re there with her.”
Gilbert has put together a team of 14 riders for his ‘Team Cure Chelsea’ — all of which are either family or close friends. He says seeing them so close to reaching their goal is heartwarming to say the least.
“We’ve been blessed with community support and local grocery stores,” said Gilbert.
“We’ve got a fellow who runs a finance company, Derek Moran, who bought all our jerseys, and you know, this kind of stuff is just amazing. It makes your heart swell.”
With the big event coming up on Aug. 27, Strauss has her sights set on getting a front row seat to the action.
“I’m hoping I’ll feel well enough to sit at a water station and cheer people on and hand out some water bottles, so I’m really hoping ill be able to participate in that,” Strauss expressed.
If you’d like to make a donation to Team Cure Chelsea, click here.