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The Power of Inspiration

Sealed with a kiss — a young couple’s love inspires the world

Chris was shocked to learn he had a rare form of renal cancer that couldn’t be treated. No 25-year-old ever expects to need hospice. With just months to live, he turned to MJHS for his care. While a serious diagnosis might crush some spirits, the college graduate was determined not to dwell on the amount of time he had left but instead focus on how to live life to the fullest. He wound up inspiring the world. It all started with a casual chat between Chris and his hospice social worker. Chris said he wanted a memorable way to express his love for long-time girlfriend Terry and their two-year-old son, CJ. The conversation led to talk of a wedding. Chris mentioned something traditional…with a tux, wedding dress, religious service, family, music, and cake. In the same breath, he somberly noted that he, Terry and CJ only had a short time left together, so there wouldn’t be time to walk down the aisle. But everyone on Chris’s hospice team disagreed. There was time. He just needed to propose. And he did…from his one-bedroom suite at the MJHS Hospice inpatient unit in Manhattan Beach.

Twenty-four hours later, with the help of the young couple’s family and friends, Chris’s hospice care team threw a memorable ceremony and reception that left everyone with tears of joy. With sweeping oceanfront views in the background, Terry walked to her groom in a gorgeous gown. Little CJ wore a tux. Chris, who used a wheelchair, found the strength to stand for his bride. A balloon arch and flowers added whimsy and charm to the special day. The newlyweds spent the night wrapped in the warmth of friends and family, laughing and joyous, just like any other couple on their wedding day. For one magical night, there was no talk of cancer. The next day, their wedding photo went viral. Less than three months later, Chris died, and the world mourned. Many believe hospice is only for older people or those with just days to live. Some imagine it’s an experience that requires hushed tones and family huddled by a bedside. It isn’t. For Chris and countless others worldwide, hospice is a time of love, memory-making and myriad sources of inspiration. Hospice is caring. MJHS does this every minute, every day.

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