Mogadore residents Sarah Lewis, 27, and William Cramer, 28, a couple for some six years, tied the knot Christmas morning.
Still, it wasn’t the holiday date that made the occasion so memorable as much as the location: A room on the fifth floor of Akron Children’s Hospital, where the couple’s 4-year-old son, Billy, has been staying while being treated for cancer.
“He’s my hero,” William Cramer said of his firstborn son.
The 4-year-old was diagnosed in November 2013 with neuroblastoma, a cancer of neural tissue that most commonly forms in childhood, rarely in adults. Billy’s cancer started in the adrenal gland on top of his left kidney. The cancer, which is difficult to treat, spread into the boy’s bones, said his oncologist, Dr. John Fargo.
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Since the diagnosis, Billy has undergone chemotherapy, surgery, a bone marrow transplant and more intensive chemotherapy. He is now taking part in a clinical immunotherapy trial that will last a couple more months. Billy’s mom, Sarah, estimates she and her son have been in the hospital the equivalent of six of the last 12 months.
The good news is, the treatment is working, Fargo said.
“He’s doing great. He’s quite a trouper,” he said. “He tolerates the therapy pretty well. He’s quite the little kid.”
Blood markers so far show no signs of cancer, Fargo said. “From what we can tell, there is no evidence of disease.”
Sarah and William said over the years they had made other wedding plans that fell through.
But the timing worked out just right Thursday with family in town for the holiday and Sarah’s Uncle David available.
The location in Billy’s room was right, too, Sarah said.
“This has been our second home the past year,” Sarah said. The hospital wedding made the occasion more about their family and the people who have been caring for Billy, she said.
Plus, Sarah said after the ceremony, “It shows we’re going to be together for the long haul.”
Hospital staff on the floor happily — and hastily — prepared for the wedding, which came together just in the last week or so. They brought in a lighted arch that was placed at the entrance to Billy’s room, where the ceremony took place. Another staffer scattered rose petals on the floor.
Family gathered inside the room — there were more than a few happy sniffles — as Sarah’s uncle, David Crisco, a Baptist preacher, conducted the short ceremony with the couple standing under the arch. Hospital staff gathered, watching and smiling.
Billy sat up in his hospital bed, holding a bouquet of flowers in his left hand as he watched the ceremony. Relatives, including the couple’s two other children, Mason, 2, and Delaney, 1, softly jingled bells at times from the back of the room.
William Cramer works at Hudson-based toy maker Little Tikes. “I make the toys,” he said. “I’m Santa’s little helper.”
He has cared for the two younger children at home while Sarah stayed with Billy at the hospital.
Sarah said she and her husband are looking forward to returning to normal family life once Billy completes his treatments. She left nursing school to tend to Billy’s illness and intends to finish her nursing degree and eventually work at Akron Children’s, she said.
Courtney Culbertson, a nurse practitioner on the floor who played a big role in coordinating the wedding plans, was all smiles after the ceremony.
“Forty-eight hours, we threw a wedding. It was pretty cool ... It’s my first hospital wedding,” she said. “It’s very special. It’s the Christmas miracle.”
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