A woman with terminal cancer has told how she met her husband and had a “beautiful” wedding day after having her right arm amputated to extend her life.
Shannon Lynch, 21, from Edenbridge in Kent, was first diagnosed with a rare cancer in her elbow at the age of 15.
While doctors initially thought the lump in her arm might be down to “tennis elbow”, it grew bigger and a month later she was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma - a rare type of cancer that affects soft tissues.
Over the next year, Shannon underwent chemotherapy, radiotherapy and later an operation to remove the lump. For a while, it seemed as if she had beaten the cancer, but it returned in July 2017 in the form of another lump – a Grade 3 sarcoma – in July 2017.
In August 2017, Shannon chose to undergo an amputation of her right arm just above her elbow, in order to extend her life.
"I knew giving up my right arm could be a struggle for me as I would have to learn to write and do activities with my opposite arm,” she said. "If I didn't have my right arm amputated, then I would have got tumours in my lungs a lot earlier. It was simple - either die or have it removed. So it set it in stone for me.”
The following year, in December 2018, she was partaking in an Xbox Live event with her brother when she got chatting to his friend.
"I joined an Xbox Live party with my brother and Ash was in the group. Something just clicked between us and then we started chatting loads. I already knew so much about him from my brother, we just bonded almost instantly,” said Shannon.
After a first date with her now-husband at Costa Coffee, she said she “fell for him immediately”.
But after only a few months of dating, Shannon discovered her cancer had returned in May after suffering from extreme chest pain which, it emerged, was linked to three tumours inside her lungs. The following July, she was told she had less than a year to live.
"My whole world turned upside down,” she said.
Ashley threw himself into being Shannon’s carer, and proposed a month later.
The pair married last month , on 26 October, at a church service in front of 100 family members and friends.
Having lost her hair following chemotherapy, Shannon wore a brunette wig for the service, but removed it for the reception so that she would be more comfortable.
Of the wedding, she said: “Ashley and I were both really nervous, but as soon as we were together, everything felt okay again.
"The wedding just felt so surreal, and I wouldn't have changed it in any way. I wore a wig for the service as I wanted some nice pictures of me with hair in my wedding dress, but it was just too itchy to wear at the reception.
"When they pronounced us man and wife, I felt so extremely happy and excited for mine and Ash's future."
Although their time together is short, Shannon is determined to make the most of it.
She said: "My wedding day meant everything to me, and it's lovely to be able to show the world that I'm devoted to the one I love for the rest of my life.
"It doesn't matter how long I have with him, as long as I'm with him and we are happy.
"Married life is better than I ever thought it could be, it's better than people say it is, I'm always happy when I'm with him.
"We are trying to make memories together but it's hard at the same time because I can get ill and tired very quickly."
Ashley added: "I'm not gonna try and hide from the fact that I will lose her to something that I have no control over.
"It's the hardest thing I have to face in my life and every time I think about it, I almost cry.
"In all honesty, I am trying to make the best memories I can with Shannon. I want to make her dreams come true."