Couple Says "I Do" Before Bride Loses Cancer Battle
- Ben Cooper asked his bride, Jen Cooper, to marry him in 2010, but something always seemed to delay their nuptials. Jen also battled breast cancer soon after the pair got engaged, but last year a date was set when she celebrated five years of being cancer-free.
- Her cancer suddenly returned and with a poor prognosis, she checked into a hospice facility earlier this year. That is where she and her husband Ben were wed on November 17, three days before the mother-of-five passed away.
- Discussing a cancer diagnosis with children can be complicated, and some families are more open to sharing all details at once. In contrast, others prefer to keep it a secret sometimes forever. The Coopers elected to tell all five of their children.
Ben Cooper asked his bride, Jen Cooper, to marry him in 2010, but with five children, something always seemed to delay their nuptials.Read More
That is where the two walked down the aisle on November 17, joined by just two witnesses and Jen’s mom.
They had planned their wedding for November 27 but moved it up at the last second.
That was for the best, as on November 20, Jen lost her battle with cancer.
“We played Bon Jovi for Jen, got her in her dress, and had some bubbly,” Ben told the Daily Mail of their wedding day preparations. “It was perfect. The nurses hung Jen’s dress up in her room so she could look at it when she was in bed.”
“The kids were so excited about the wedding I was worried about coming home and telling them we’d got married and that they hadn’t been able to be there, but they were just so happy for us.”
He also kept that November 27 date open so that he could celebrate the birthdays of the couple’s three daughters.
“I had no idea how I would get five kids through Christmas and three birthdays when my salary will barely cover the bills on my own, the donations will help me make sure that their first birthday/Christmas without mum is as happy as can be,” said Ben.
“My one daughter even insisted on wearing her wedding dress to school for children in need of a non-uniform day.”
After the ceremony, Ben took to Twitter to share his joy.
“I finally married the love of my life on Wednesday. Not the day we had planned, but amazing. I'm heartbroken that this marriage will be counted in days, not years. Don't put things off, tell the people you love that you love them now.”
He also spoke about his final moments with Jen to the Mail.
“Her last moments were with me holding her hand. I told her that I loved her, and the kids loved her,” said Ben. “I stayed with her for a while, holding her hand and talking to her while my friend came to pick me up.”
He continued: “Then I gave her one last kiss and said ‘Good night Beach’ (her nickname from me), and I went home to the kids.”
Talking To Kids About Cancer
Discussing a cancer diagnosis with children can be complicated, and some families are more open to sharing all details at once. In contrast, others prefer to keep it a secret sometimes forever.
John Duberstein lost his wife Nina to cancer and told SurvivorNet that before her death, they tried to be upfront with their sons, who were six and eight when their mother learned she had cancer.
"We tried to give them the information, and we didn't want to hide things from them," said Duberstein. "We didn't talk mortality tables with our kids, and we didn't talk about the nitty-gritty of the treatment unless they asked about it, and then we did."
Talking To Kids About Cancer
He said that the approach felt progressive and a far better way to handle the situation than just ignoring what was happening to the boys' mother.
Things got tricky, he said, when Nina was no longer in active treatment.
"The trick with cancer is when you look like a cancer patient, that's probably a good thing for your overall prognosis. That means you're still being treated, and that means they still think that they can either beat it back or cure it," noted Duberstein. "When you're a cancer patient who doesn't look like a cancer patient, that can mean that there is no treatment available to you, and they've just stopped doing the things that show up like hair loss and emaciation and that kind of stuff."
So when the couple spoke to the boys one night, they learned that the two had been telling people their mom was sick but now was much better, using her appearance as the basis of that belief.
"Even if we didn't say it, you actually have to affirmatively counter that narrative with the kids, and you do it gently as much as you can, but at the end of the night, what Nina had to tell them was, "I'm not ever gonna get better. My cancer's not ever gonna go away,"' recalled Duberstein.
"And it was hard for them to hear even though they'd already been prepared, and they'd already known that stuff."
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