VERNON - Not knowing how many more days he’d wake up next to her, how many more drives they would go on together, or how many more times he’d get to say I love you, Ryan Langley rose from his wheelchair—defying everything his doctors had said—and watched the love of his life, Alisa, walk down the aisle.
In that moment, nothing else mattered.
Their love story started two years ago in the Lower Mainland when fate brought Ryan, a dirt bike racer and Alisa, a holistic nutritionalist, together. Ryan had moved in just a block from where Alisa lived and it wasn’t long before he started stopping to chat with her when she was out jogging or walking her dog.
“It was like time stood still, like no one else was around,” Alisa, 30, says. “I just felt this warm fuzzy feeling and I knew something was happening.”
A month later, their relationship was official, and eight months later came the biggest test of their fledgling relationship. Ryan was feeling under the weather, sleeping poorly and suffering extreme pain that doctors chalked up to an old dirt biking injury. Eventually, a doctor at a walk-in clinic had the sense to order an emergency CT Scan which brought a quick and gut-wrenching diagnosis: incurable Non-Hodgkin lymphoma. He started chemo and radiation the very next week, a treatment that would buy him time but not save his life.
The first year wasn’t easy on their relationship. Ryan was so sick from the chemo and radiation all he did was sleep and stare at the ceiling when he was awake.
“I felt like we’d already lost him,” Alisa says. “He didn’t want me near him, didn’t want anyone touching him.”
Ryan, who loves traveling, camping, being outdoors and feeling the wind on his face while ripping around on his dirt bike, was suddenly bedridden, trapped inside the helplessness of a terminal illness, his independence gone.
“It was scary to bring Alisa into this and have her sacrifice so much and for what, I don’t know. I can't promise her anything,” Ryan, 31, says. “I want to offer her as (good) a life as possible and now my tools and abilities have all been taken from me.”
Eventually, Ryan let Alisa, and her positive outlook, back in, bringing them closer than they had ever been.
"We’re able to talk again and have conversations and tell each other we love each other,” Alisa says.
She quit her job and began caring for Ryan around the clock. They began a more natural journey to recovery and planned a move to the Okanagan, where they always wanted to live. Shorty before their departure, Ryan’s condition worsened and he was rushed to emergency.
“He didn’t eat or drink for ten days. The doctors were telling us to say our goodbyes,” Alisa says.
But Ryan pulled through and the brush with death left him antsier than ever to ask Alisa to marry him.
“All I wanted was for Alisa to know how much I cared about her. All of a sudden it became really important for me to do this,” Ryan says.
He went to Alisa’s favourite jewelry store as soon as he was discharged from the hospital and popped the question that night in front of all their friends. He’d always imagined recreating their first date when they doubled on his dirt bike and trekked up to a lookout in Chilliwack. He’d planned to propose to her at the top, but now all he wanted to do was marry her before it was too late.
They picked July 5, 2014 for their wedding date, intending to marry in Ryan’s dad’s backyard in Kamloops.
“We wanted it to happen as quickly as possible to have the chance of it being able to happen,” Ryan says.
In December of 2013, Ryan was told he only had about 12 weeks to live, but he and Alisa followed their hearts instead of the doctor’s prediction. Ryan has already defied many medical experts’ estimations of how much life he has left.
“Only you decide when you’re going to die,” Alisa says. “You can decide to have a different journey and a different possibility.”
While their love was fiercer than ever, wedding plans and budgets were being ignored. By June, they had nearly lost hope of the wedding becoming a reality.
“Then six angels showed up on our doorstep,” Ryan says.
Inspired by a video called Prank it FWD, T-Lane Transportation asked its employees to submit ideas for someone who deserved a special day. Shelley Raspberry, who works at the Vernon branch and knows Ryan through the dirt-biking world, suggested they focus on him and Alisa.
“All she knew was he had terminal cancer and wanted to marry the girl of his dreams,” Alisa says.
They put together the whole wedding, thinking of everything and covering all expenses. The wedding was held in Kamloops, in Ryan’s dad’s backyard with all their loved ones present. Ryan and Alisa agree it was the best day of their lives, one that wouldn’t have happened without the public’s generosity.
“We’re amazed at how much people have responded and come together over this,” Alisa says. “It’s hard to see the positive when your worst nightmare is coming true, but it’s been easy for us to be grateful and thankful.”
Now comes the couple’s honeymoon. They plan to leave as soon as Ryan is in shape. They rented a Mustang convertible for a road trip around B.C. No matter what happens now, Ryan says the wedding brought him peace.
“When we met each other, there was no question we both wanted each other as much as we do,” Ryan says. “We’re both old souls and feel we knew each other in another life. We’re hoping to meet again.”
Video Credit: YouTube
The portion of this video about Ryan and Alisa begins at the 1:30 mark.
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