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For better or for worse, couple exchange wedding vows at Akron General

When they exchanged wedding vows, Lisa and Tom Haren already were putting their pledge to love each other “in sickness and in health” to the test.

Just a day before the Akron couple planned to get married Saturday afternoon at Springfield Lake, she was rushed into surgery at Akron General Medical Center with what originally appeared to be a case of appendicitis.

“Our wedding is Saturday,” she protested.

“We think we can get you out by Friday night,” the hospital staff responded.

But their outdoor wedding and Caribbean honeymoon were thwarted when the surgeon discovered a golf ball-sized tumor in her abdomen, requiring removal of her appendix and part of her colon.

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She’s still waiting for test results to find out where the cancer started and her prognosis.

“After what you just heard,” she asked, “do you still want to marry me?”

“Yes,” he responded without hesitation. “Of course.”

With the help of her family, the groom threw together a rare impromptu ceremony Saturday afternoon in her hospital room at Akron General.

“It will make things more difficult going down the road, but it doesn’t change how I feel about her,” he said while holding his wife’s hand Monday afternoon in her hospital room.

Lisa and Tom were dating for about three years when he proposed to her this spring. She decided she wanted an intimate outdoor wedding officiated by her longtime pastor, the Rev. Karen Hartley, who retired last year from Wedgewood United Methodist Church.

The couple were getting ready for the festivities last week when she started having severe pain in her abdomen Thursday night.

About 1 a.m., he took her to the emergency room at Akron General, where the initial diagnosis was a possible case of appendicitis.

Before the operation that morning, however, the surgeon reviewed the CT images and warned it appeared “much worse.”

“You’re not getting married tomorrow,” the doctor said, “and you’re definitely not going on your honeymoon.”

What originally was supposed to be a half hour procedure took nearly four hours.

While she was in surgery, the groom-to-be started making arrangements to move the ceremony to the hospital.

“He said he didn’t want to put it off another day,” Hartley said. “He was ready.”

Her children, Rachel, Kelly and Ryan Davis, helped decorate her room with balloons and streamers.

The next day, her two daughters did her makeup and hair and helped her don her white dress.

Her nurse hung a sign warning everyone — including medical personnel — to stay out of the room during the ceremony.

Instead of the bride walking down an aisle, she rested in her hospital bed while he strolled into the room as the Wedding March played from her iPhone.

He knelt by her bedside while they exchanged vows surrounded by her family.

“They went from tears of sadness the day before to tears of joy,” he said.

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