A Change of Plans for a Couple with Hearts of Gold
- Alysia Schuler and John Stambersky have been dating for five years and originally planned to marry back on Nov. 11, 2020. But after two cancellations due to COVID-19 related issues, the couple decided to hold off on the wedding for now and host a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society instead.
- Raising money for the ACS is an important cause for Schuler because she’s had a history of volunteering for their Relay for Life event, and she’s also lost many family members to cancer including her father-in-law from her first marriage, her mother and two uncles.
- Grief is an unavoidable and important part of healing following the loss of a loved one to cancer. But moving forward with purpose and remember the ways in which a loved one enriched your life can help.
Quite different from the ceremony they originally had in mind, the new event will be a “Totally 80s Party” from 6:30 to 11 p.m. on Feb. 11 at Arnaldo’s Banquet Center in Riverview, Michigan. In order to break even, the couple will need to sell 160 tickets before Jan. 28, or they’ll be forced to cancel the event and forfeit their deposit.Read More
But there’s more to their story than just wanting to have a good time, and their story begins back in 2020 when their original wedding date of Nov. 11 was cancelled because large gatherings were still too risky without vaccines.
“Our original plans were just an intimate ceremony, then a party for everybody,” Schuler said. “With the pandemic, and not knowing how to plan accordingly, we decided let’s book this hall, then we can get married there and have a party there.”
Then, if that weren’t enough, the couple tested positive for COVID-19 the weekend after Thanksgiving 2020. And with Schuler’s case a particularly bad one, she is just thankful to be alive. She even said she temporarily lost the use the of her left leg and had to be tested for blood clots and stroke due to complications from the virus.
“I went through neurology, had MRIs, CAT scans, physical therapy – all different kinds of things,” she said. “It was just really time consuming, to go to all of these specialists, and it was really financially draining, and it was mentally draining.
“It was really hard, and I just couldn’t plan a wedding, because I didn’t know what was going on.”
From there, the couple decided to cancel the wedding they had rescheduled for Feb. 11, 2022, because of Schuler’s health issues and ongoing concerns about family members flying for the event during the pandemic. But with a nonrefundable deposit on the line, the couple still wanted to make use of the hall.
“At that point, I decided I was going to flip back to my glory days of working with the American Cancer Society,” Schuler said. “With the pandemic, ACS has lost a lot of funding, so, I thought, I have this money on this hall, so I could make it be used for something, instead of just losing it.”
And Schuler’s connection to the cause is deeper than even just her previous volunteering efforts with ACS’s Relay for Life. She’s lost her father-in-law from her first marriage to cancer in 2002, her mother to cancer in 2016, an uncle to colon cancer and another uncle to liver cancer in her lifetime. So, like all too many people, Schuler has unfortunately been impacted by the disease in more ways than one.
Looking ahead the couple of five years is looking forward to hopefully having a successful fundraising event and planning to finally wed on Nov. 11, 2022.
“No matter what happens on that date, if it is just us two and an officiant, or if we decide to throw something together, it will probably just be small, but after five years, it is going to be that day,” Schuler said.
Losing Loved Ones to Cancer
Losing someone you love to cancer can cause immeasurable pain – as Schuler knows all too well. But grief is an inevitable – and essential – part of the healing process. And there’s definitely no one way to cope, but Doug Wendt shared his thoughts on grief in a previous interview with SurvivorNet after losing his wife Alice to ovarian cancer.
“We’re never gonna move on, I don’t even think I want to move on, but I do want to move forward,” Wendt said. “That’s an important distinction, and I encourage anybody who goes through this journey as a caregiver and then has to face loss, to think very carefully about how to move forward.”
Remembering all the wonderful ways the person you’ve lost enriched your life can also help you move forward – something Caleb Farley can surely attest to. In a previous interview with SurvivorNet, Farley talked about his mother’s battle with breast cancer. He also discussed how he opted out of his position as a cornerback for the Virginia Tech Hokies due to COVID-19 concerns. Having lost his mom to breast cancer in 2018, he knew he wanted to be extra careful during the pandemic.
Farley announced the news of his opt-out in an Instagram video saying, in part, “I cannot afford to lose another parent or loved one… Though the competitor in me badly wants to play this season, I cannot ignore what’s going on in my heart, and I must make the decision that brings me the most peace.”
Farley trained for the NFL draft instead of playing for Virginia Tech, and his efforts paid off. He was selected by the Tennessee Titans as the number 22 overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft.
Farley’s mother fought two battles with cancer. He watched as she went through multiple rounds of chemotherapy while still working and taking care of her family. Although his “superhero” mother will not get to see him play in the NFL, Farley will take many lessons he learned from her and apply them to whatever challenges he faces in life moving forward.
“My mother raised me to be very religious, very God-conscious. That’s been everything to me, and my life. That’s like the building blocks of my, of my life,” Farley told SurvivorNet. “Anything that’s happened to me, any adversity, any good times, any bad times, I’ve always kind of stood on that rock of faith. I can’t thank her enough for how she raised me and because it was her who gave me all of that, um, spiritually, she, she just filled my heart with love and joy. I’ve had a happy life because of her.”