Posted: Saturday, January 30th 2010 at 6:00pm
Terminally ill NE Ga. man marries with days to live
By The Associated Press
ATHENS - It wasn't the fairy tale wedding most brides dream of, but that didn't matter.
Keni Carter and Chris Hulett held hands at the front of the Athens Regional Medical Center chapel Friday afternoon, as a Barrow County probate judge led them through a five-minute ceremony.
The Huletts cherished those minutes and the long kiss that followed - a few more moments they'll get together. Death likely will take Chris from Keni in a matter of days or even hours.
Melanoma cancer has raced through Hulett's body and caused his liver to shut down, his family said. The doctors told them there was nothing more they could do.
"They haven't given us any hope other than a miracle, so that's what we're praying for," said Kandi Chavis, Carter's mother.
Carter, 26, and Hulett, 29, faced crises together as soon as the Stephens County residents started dating last April. That same month, Hulett, a Stephens County sheriff's deputy, broke his neck in a car crash, Chavis said.
He recovered only to find he had some pain in his hip. When he got it looked at in October, doctors discovered he had advanced melanoma, said John Hulett, his father.
Carter never left his side, John Hulett said.
"She's stayed with him through everything," he said. "It's tough, and it's going to get tougher. Every day they have is going to be precious."
Perhaps no day more precious than Friday. Hulett and Carter decided about 11 a.m. that they'd get married that afternoon.
"We got engaged Dec. 19, but we hadn't set a date or anything," Carter said. "We hadn't even bought the first thing for the wedding."
On Friday, though, the couple's family and friends planned a wedding in a matter of hours. Carter's friends took her to be fitted for a wedding dress and get rings while nurses at the hospital turned one of the waiting rooms into a reception hall.
Nurses, doctors, friends and family members who couldn't squeeze into the full chapel lined the hallways outside and cried and smiled as Carter and Hulett walked past.
The new married couple got to smear wedding cake over each other's faces and drink a glass of sparkling grape juice. They sat at the head of the hallway for an hour to say hello to everyone who came by.
"None of this would've been possible without friends and family and the staff here," Carter said. "This hospital has done so much to make this a happy day.
"It's better than any book that's ever been written."
Hulett, still hooked up to an IV, said the occasion was entirely more than he ever expected.
"It turned one of the gloomiest days into the best day of my life," he said.
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