On Friday, May 20, 2010, the International Myeloma Foundation (IMF) kicked off their annual Patient & Family Seminar program in Portland, Oregon at the downtown Embassy Suites Hotel. Each year, the IMF visits four cities across the country, bringing with them an esteemed faculty ranging from top myeloma physicians to nutritional specialists and more. Patients and their caregivers in attendance spend two days learning about the disease, treatments, side effects and quality of life issues that affect them, and often leave filled with a sense of renewed hope and camaraderie with their fellow patients. But one special couple made this first seminar of the season the most unforgettable IMF event in our 20 year history.
Robin Laughlin and Paul Daurelle met in high school nearly 40 years ago. Over the years, their friendship dwindled as they drifted apart. A few years ago the two reconnected on Facebook and last year, they became engaged.
Paul is a patient with multiple myeloma. For the past year their continued attempts to get married were thwarted by his unrelenting health issues. Most recently, they had to cancel plans to go to Hawaii when Paul’s arm was broken and his doctor told him not to lift anything heavier than a half gallon of milk.
While at the Portland Patient and Family Seminar, the couple realized that there was no time like the present, so they asked IMF President Susie Novis if she knew anybody that could marry them the next day.
As it turned out, Dr. Durie, Chairman of the IMF Board of Directors, had previously registered as a minister with the Universal Life Church last year at the request of some friends who wanted him to perform their ceremony. He was on hand to perform the ceremony for Paul and Robin. During the breakout sessions, the IMF staff worked with the hotel to make the wedding as memorable and special for the couple as they could. The hotel prepared a bouquet for the bride, a three-tier white wedding cake and sparkling apple cider in champagne glasses. The IMF went to work writing a ceremony, displaying an image of a beachfront wedding arch on the screen and creating a playlist of music for the entrance and recessional.
Dr. Robert Kyle, one of the world’s leading experts on myeloma who is often called the “father of myeloma,” stepped in to walk the bride down the aisle. When they entered the banquet room, everyone stood and applauded as the bride was escorted to front of the room to stand next to her groom.
There was something very touching about this impromptu wedding, and all those in attendance were keenly aware of this as they stood to witness the joining of such longtime friends. Who else could appreciate the trials and tribulations of living with multiple myeloma other than 150 people who have experienced exactly the same thing?
When Dr. Durie pronounced Paul and Robin as husband and wife, the room erupted into a joyful blend of cheers, tears and applause. It was, in fact, the perfect way to close the first IMF seminar of 2010 – with hope, happiness and a true sense of family.
Congratulations to Mr. and Mrs. Paul Daurelle, from all of us at the IMF!
To make a contribution in honor of the wedding of Robin and Paul, contact the IMF at 800-452-CURE.