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Woman battling brain cancer weds high school sweetheart in Memphis

Updated: Jun. 17, 2021 at 10:41 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - High school sweethearts got hitched in Memphis Thursday night, but it was no ordinary wedding.

St. Jude and the Chris Hope Foundation made it a memorable celebration for a young woman battling a brain tumor.

20-year-old Gracie Jeppsen has been getting treatment at St. Jude since April. Her brain cancer diagnosis is a difficult one, but she’s fighting with all her strength with the love of her life by her side.

She and her boyfriend, 21-year-old Seth Madsen, said their vows earlier in the day surrounded by family. They’re all from Idaho and this is their first visit to Memphis. When the couple decided to get married, the staff at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Chris Hope Foundation took care of everything.

“When St. Jude called and asked if I could pitch in, I said we’re not going to pitch in, we’re going to sponsor the whole thing,” said Chris Hope. “With all she’s going through, hopefully she’ll forget about that tonight and this will be a night for her and her new groom to cherish the moment.”

Gracie’s father, David Jeppsen, said the pair were going to wait to get married until after Gracie finished her church mission. But Gracie’s backaches turned out to be something much more serious. They were caused by a malignant blastoma on her brain that had spread to her spine. The nuptials were quickly moved up, and out of town family was notified.

“There are times, a tear trickles down your cheek,” said her father. “You’re sad with what she’s going through, but you’re thrilled because this has been a dream of hers and a dream of Seth’s. They love each other and want to be together. As parents, we said we’ll do whatever it takes to make this happen.”

Gracie’s mother, Tiffany Jeppsen, said her daughter’s strong faith in God gives her strength, and becoming Mrs. Seth Madsen only adds to her determination to beat her disease.

“I think that being in love and having a future ahead of you gives you a reason to fight, and that’s really important,” her mother said. “It’s so important when you’re feeling so terrible and going through treatment to have someone and something to fight for, a future to fight for.”

Gracie is getting her second round of chemo, which will be followed by radiation.

Her mom said Gracie has a saying: “This is not Plan B, this is Plan A. This did not surprise God. He knew this was going to happen and He has a plan for me.”

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