A bride was able to capture the moment she shared a dance with her terminally ill father after fearing he would be too sick to attend her wedding.
Vanessa Wickham, 24, planned to marry her fiancé Mike Wickham, 25, in Lake Arrowhead, California - but originally feared her 65-year-old dad Lew Johnston, who is in the end stages of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, would not be able to make it because of the high-altitude location.
But Johnston, who was diagnosed with the degenerative illness which obstructs airflow to the lungs and relies on oxygen to keep him alive, was determined to be there on his daughter’s special day - despite the risks associated with the destination.
Although doctors warned Johnston that his lungs could collapse if he travelled somewhere 4,000 ft above sea level, he prepared a practice run to ensure he could cope with the change in altitude.
After the trial run was a success, Johnston was given the all-clear to attend his daughter’s wedding - where he walked her down the aisle.
In footage from the wedding, Wickham and her father dance to Elton John’s "Can You Feel The Love Tonight" - a moment that Wickham says made the day even more special.
“It was amazing to have my dad there,” she said. “It was such a special moment to dance with him.
“He is in the end stage of COPD which has progressed rapidly over the past number of years and his quality of life has gone down a lot. He is on oxygen 24/7 now.”
According to the bride, the weeks up to the wedding were a “worrying few weeks” as it seemed unlikely her father would be able to attend.
“It would have devastated me and I was so relieved when his doctors cleared him to go,” she said.
But the altitude was not going to stop Wickham’s father, who called the moment he walked his daughter down the aisle the “highlight of my life.”
“She took my breath away,” the father-of-three said. “I felt like I was walking on air when I was walking her down the aisle. I didn’t even notice my oxygen machine over my shoulder.”
And despite dancing in front of 100 guests, it “felt like Vanessa and I were the only people in the room,” according to Johnston, who also said he would like to be around for another of his daughter’s milestones.
“It’s a little greedy of me but I would love to meet a grandchild,” he said. “But I’ve had a good life and take it day by day. If I wake up in the morning that’s great. “
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