Derry woman Siobhan Kelly got engaged when was 28.
She’s now 57 but still hasn’t had her big day or been able to wear a wedding dress.
But Siobhan’s not planning to walk down the aisle any time soon, she’s getting a wedding dress specially made to take part in the Foyle Hospice’s World Record Breaking ‘Brides Across the Bridge’ event in April.
Not only will it be the first time Siobhan has set foot on the Peace Bridge, but after years of heartbreak losing her parents and her special brother Brendan, the Derry woman wants to use the event to say a thank you to the people who helped her through her recent battle with rectal cancer.
“I didn’t know about the world record attempt until two ladies asked me to participate way before Christmas,” said Siobhan.
“I laughed it off and forgot about it. I thought it was a great idea but only for those in their 20s or 30s. Christmas came and went and the two ladies weren’t giving up, so several calls later I have given in.”
Despite getting engaged more than 28 years ago, Siobhan and her fiancee Manus have yet to set a date.
As Siobhan explained: “I never wanted to marry young. As time passed I realised I had everything I wanted and needed. I had a wonderful family, a great fiancée and my career.
“I met my fiancée in 1982 and got engaged in Christmas 1985. The years flew past as they do and on July 12, 1996 my dad passed away from cancer of the oesophagus leaving my mum, my ‘special’ brother Brendan and me at home.
“I spent the next 14 years, blissfully happy with two ‘exceptional’ human beings; my mum Eileen and ‘special’ brother Brendan who I looked after with my married sister Carmel.
“Brendan was the wean I never had, he was my world. We had Santa coming to our home for 33 years. Santa was Brendan’s hero and Brendan was my hero.
“On January 17 2008 my ‘special brother’ Brendan died of cancer of the oesphoagus aged 33, the same condition my dad had. Brendan had a learning disability and cerebral palsy, he was 6-7 years mentally. Brendan was my world.
“ Then on May 1st, 2010 my mother Eileen died aged 77.
“With dad passing at 66 years, Brendan passing at 33 years and mum passing at 77 years I was very wary coming near my 55th birthday so much so that on January 1, 2011 I said to my fiancee I knew something big was going to happen this year. Having said that, little did I know a week later I would be diagnosed with rectal cancer.
“I kind of knew myself about my cancer before I got the colonoscopy but you know you don’t have any choice you have to face it ‘head on’ and accept it.
“I had surgery on February 11, 2011 and was fitted with an ileostomy bag. A year later I had it reversed. It was a very young tumour so didn’t need therapy thank God.”
Siobhan who is now retired from the Western Health and Social Care Trust, is keeping well and keen to encourage other women to get their wedding dresses dusted off for the big event on April 27.
“I feel that my presence there can show people that there are cancer survivors out there and also that it makes you make better use of each and every day,” she said.
“Bad news travels so quickly that I think that should be the case with good news.
“Can I take this opportunity to thank Mr Mawther, colorectal surgeon, Altnagelvin Hospital, doctors, nurses and admin staff at Aberfoyle Medical Practice and Alice and Fiona the stoma care specialists. Also a big thank you to my family and friends and the Well Women centre who helped me.”
And as for those who think April may be a practice for the big day, Siobhan says you’ll just have to keep guessing.