The weeks and months surrounding Dorian’s wedding was not as picturesque as she had envisioned.
The dress was purchased, the invitations were sent and she was anticipating the day just like any other bride-to-be. However, when she found out her then fiancé, Bradley Miller, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, plans quickly shifted. Instead of focusing on house decorations and furniture, the couple has been forced to face a growing pile of medical bills.
“It’s just not something we planned on, especially in our first year of marriage,” she said. “I don’t know how we’re making it through it. I think this is the biggest test anybody could have to see if your marriage is going to work.”
The couple met in 2011 through a dating website. Dorian, an Inman native, was living in McPherson. Bradley is a Savannah, Mo., native, but was in the military and stationed at Fort Riley.
After talking via phone for about a month, he drove down to meet Dorian and her family for the first time. He said he wasn’t nervous and rarely is. She said she was the opposite.
“I had given up on finding someone, and then out of the blue, he just showed up, and I was nervous,” she said. “I just wanted him to like me.”
And he did. They began officially dating in January 2012, and he drove to McPherson almost every weekend. They enjoyed watching movies, going bowling and playing miniature golf.
“I think having the long distance relationship is what made our relationship grow so fast,” Dorian said.
On their six-month anniversary, he proposed. They were at an Asian restaurant with 20 church friends and family, and he gave her fortune cookie with the words “Will you marry me?” inside.
“I think I knew from the first time I met him that he was the one,” she said. “I didn’t want to let him go, and when I got the ring, I felt like I finally had him.”
Following their engagement, their wedding date was set for March 2, 2013.
In December 2012, Bradley began to get sick, which was rare for him. It got progressively worse until he finally saw a doctor at the end of January.
He was soon diagnosed with leukemia. Not long after, he began treatment, which included chemotherapy, lumbar punctures and oral medications.
The couple was forced to change their wedding plans, as he was released from the hospital a few days before their scheduled wedding. They thought about a ceremony in the hospital. They went through with the legal portion of the marriage, but must wait at least a year or two before he is able to handle a full ceremony.
Page 2 of 2 - Bradley is in remission now, but is planning on having a bone marrow transplant, which he said provides a quicker and more effective recovery than long-term chemotherapy.
“It’s been tough, because there are days where I can’t do anything but lay around,” he said.
Dorian said it has been hard to watch.
“That was hard on me and his parents because he’d been military and had been so strong, and you just don’t see that,” she said.
One of the most stressful parts of the entire process has been the medical bills. Both are now on disability — Bradley since his diagnosis and Dorian since she was 19.
“If you could see the stack of medical bills that insurance doesn’t cover, you'd be like, ‘Wow,’” he said.
Their families are planning on several fundraisers around the McPherson area. On June 10, Montana Mikes is sponsoring a dinner with four menu choices for $15 a ticket. There also will be a garage sale at Calvary Baptist church June 8 and 15. The family also is baking bierocks and cinnamon rolls for order.
Donations also may be given directly to the family through funds at Peoples Bank in Inman and McPherson, and First Bank Kansas in McPherson.
Dorian's mother, Debbie Baerg, is proud of the way the couple has handled their unfortunate circumstances.
“There’s going to be bad days, but overall, they’re attitude amazes me,” she said. “With the struggles they’re going through … they have given other people inspiration. The two of them together, it’s like watching them grow in their love, and everything is just awesome.”
Although the past year has been rough, Dorian said Bradley gives her joy.
“He likes me for me,” she said. “He doesn’t care about my past or any of my problems. He just accepts me for who I am.
“I can’t stay mad at him. There’s just something about him that, if I look at him, I can't help but smile.”
For more information about fundraising or aid, contact Debbie Baerg at 620-245-7036.
Contact Jenae Pauls at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @PaulsSentinel