July 24, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Battling cancer, newlyweds set new goal: A first year anniversary

GRANGER TWP. — On a snowy Saturday in January, Wadsworth resident James Stillings’ doctor came in on her day off to deliver the bad news: His cancer wasn’t responding to treatment.

Stillings and his girlfriend of five years, Adora Alexander, knew they had to make the most of the time they had left, and wanted to spend it as husband and wife.

James and Adora Stillings, of Wadsworth, were married Saturday at HMC Hospice of Medina County in Granger Township. James, 61, was diagnosed with lymphoma in May. (COURTESY PHOTO)

The couple was married Saturday in front of family and friends in the chapel at HMC Hospice of Medina County.

It was almost a year after James, who is 61, was diagnosed with lymphoma.

“It was beautiful,” Adora, 45, said. “It was just something simple. We didn’t really want a big extravagant thing. We wanted a small, intimate wedding.”

Hospice staff and volunteers provided a reception with a three-tiered cake and a honeymoon night in a hotel.

Led by her oldest of two sons from a previous marriage, the bride walked down the aisle holding a bouquet of tulips and roses.

“We’ve been together for five years, so I had five rose buds for each of the years we’ve been together, and then one that was opening up in the center as the beginning of our married life together,” she said.

They have planned to get married for the last few years, Adora said, but were waiting for the right time.

James was diagnosed in May following a series of lung and throat problems.

After three rounds of two different chemotherapy drugs, a scan revealed the cancer was more aggressive than previously thought.

A third chemotherapy drug was an option, Adora said, but the first two already had failed, and the third held only the promise that James would be sick constantly.

“We just made the decision that we’d rather have quality time rather than quantity,” she said.

James receives hospice care from home, so Adora is his full-time caregiver.

“There’s days where he has a harder time talking, so he doesn’t say a whole lot,” she said. “That’s hard for me some days because I really want him to talk and converse with me, but at the same time I understand that he can’t. But just having him with me is a positive.”

The two met after James moved in behind her parents’ house in Barberton. James said he was drawn to Adora because “she’s always willing to go places and do things.”

“We used to go motorcycle riding and boating and do all those things before I got sick,” he said.

While motorcycle riding may be out of the question now, they said they still like to be as active as possible.

“Just sometimes it’s the simple thing of going out and getting a milkshake,” James said.

On Saturday, that adventure was a trip down the aisle.

Adora said they always wanted to get married in a chapel, but because of James’ illness, didn’t know how to make it work until HMC offered the use of the chapel in the new Windfall Road facility.

“I think it just kind of took a life of its own from that point,” Adora said. “We weren’t expecting them to do everything that they did. We couldn’t say ‘thank you’ enough.”

Hospice communications coordinator Lynee Bixler said the center was honored to host the ceremony.

“We were just so very tickled to be a part of it and to be able to give them something that they will always remember,” she said, adding the event epitomized the idea that hospice is a beginning, not the end.

However many days, weeks or months they have left, Adora said, will be about enjoying the simple things in life and setting goals.

“I told him, ‘Now you have a new goal to set,’ ” she said. “A one-year anniversary.”

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at (330) 721-4063 or jpignolet@medina-gazette.com.