Their love has been a long time coming. Joel Alsup and Lindsey Wilkerson first met nearly 30 years ago when they were just two young kids—who also happened to be cancer patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
At the time, Alsup, now 38, had a bone tumor, and Wilkerson, now 37, had been diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic lymphoma. They were both young and uncertain of what their respective diagnoses meant for their lives, both current and future. Alsup was just 7 years old when he was diagnosed with osteosarcoma and had to have his right arm amputated. And Alsup was just 10 when she was diagnosed with leukemia.
The pair became fast friends, but lost touch as they grew up, with Alsup going to college in Tennessee and Wilkerson going to Arkansas. They reconnected, almost miraculously, years later when they both ended up working with the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC), St. Jude’s fundraising and awareness organization.
They both knew, upon their reunion, that this time, there was something more to their friendship.
“I think it’s difficult for us to understand the significance of our story because, to us, it’s just our lives,” Alsup told People. On September 1, the pair got married at the very Memphis, Tenn. hospital where they first met, with a number of their caretakers from decades ago in attendance and acting as important members of the wedding party.
“Lindsey’s primary physician at St. Jude did a reading,” Alsup said. “Our officiant was our chaplain at St. Jude. It was beautiful and amazing to see the people and think of the events that got us to that day.”
During the big day itself, “there were many happy tears,” Alsup said. “To know that just a few hundred feet from where we said ‘I do’ was literally where our lives were saved meant so much.”
Added Wilkerson: “I never imagined that my childhood crush and then best friend would ever become my husband. We’ve had the blessing of growing up together, finding a deep and loving friendship that led to finding our forever love in each other. I’m so thankful for every moment with him.”
Alsup agreed. “I got to marry the love of my life, and I hope everyone can do that,” he said. “If there is any significance we hope our story has, is that it lets families and kids battling cancer know that there is life after.”
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