Every girl dreams about her wedding day. When you're diagnosed with cancer at a young age you're not sure it will happen.
Six years out from her diagnosis, one Cedar Park woman is proving that there is life after cancer, and it can be happier than ever.
Sometimes the picture-perfect family takes a lifetime to build. That is the case for Val Jones and Jack Bryant.
“I'm not a drinker. I'm not a smoker. I'm like the picture of health," said Jones, who was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 40.
With no history of cancer in her family, Jones underwent a lumpectomy followed by weeks of radiation. She also changed how she ate and began using her muscles to gain strength and motivation.
"Cancer kind of sidelined me a little bit, but it didn't steal my hopes and my dreams," she said.
She now trains and enters fitness competitions and, through it all, found the love of her life.
“My fiance, Jack, and I have a love affair with Alaska, and to get married on a glacier was the first thought that we had when he proposed to me,” she said.
An unexpected call from TLC's "Say Yes to the Dress" sealed the deal.
“We decided to do an elopement because he is my one and only and we thought it would be more special if it was just us. To marry him on a glacier is probably going to be the most amazing thing I've ever done,” said Jones.
Jones’ mother was recently diagnosed with kidney cancer and was undergoing treatment so was unable to travel to New York, so Jones invited her cancer team.
“They know my pain and so I wanted them to know my joy,” she said.
That moment every girl dreams of couldn't have been any sweeter.
“When they finally put the veil on and they told me to turn around, I didn't recognize myself,” she recalled tearfully.
Debra Patt, M.D., vice president of Texas Oncology and Jones’ oncologist said, “That was very special. Making the decisions that we've made previously about her treatment, those are very close and personal decisions, but this one was so joyous and fun and celebratory and it was really a privilege to be part of it.”
Moments topped only by the wedding itself.
“We went three weeks later to Alaska, everything just happened and it was not something we planned at all,” Jones said.
“It was really cold on the glacier, I'm not going to lie to you, I was not appropriately dressed. The dress is really beautiful and when you see it on ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ you'll understand why I was cold,” she said.
There are times in life that test your spirit. This young cancer thriver is determined to not let them rob her of her happiness, her joy, her dreams.
“That's really the inspiration we can all draw from Val is how you react to the challenges put before you,” said Dr. Patt. “So I think it heightens awareness of early detection, not only for the idea that you can wake up every day and not think about being a breast cancer survivor, but think about being a beautiful bride, about loving your partner, about participating in all of life’s joys. That’s really survivorship.”
“Everybody likes a happy ending and it's definitely been a happy ending for me,” added Jones.
A fairytale ending and proof there is life following cancer.
Jones’ story airs on TLC Saturday at 7 p.m. She'll be watching with her cancer team at a private watch party in Georgetown.