Natalie Green was 43 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer on the same day that her father started treatment for cancer. A mammogram revealed a lump in her breast, and doctors told her she was at stage I and would need a lumpectomy, but then MRI scans showed the cancer was actually a more advanced stage III. Natalie had four tumors in her breast and would need to undergo a mastectomy and possibly chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment over the course of the next several months.
“The worst thing was telling my mum because my dad had just started chemotherapy for kidney cancer,” says Natalie. “It really knocked her—first her husband, then her daughter.”
It was a scary time in her life, but she wasn’t about to let it stop her from doing the things she loves, like teaching Zumba classes and working as acurriculum support officer at a local school. And she certainly wasn’t going to let it keep her from marrying the man of her dreams and her partner of 13 years—while she still had her hair.
“It was a bit of an emotional time, but I’m a glass half full, and I thought, ‘Right, this isn’t stopping me. Let’s do this,'” says Natalie. “And that was the way I’ve treated it and the way I’ve gone all the way through.”
Natalie planned her entire wedding, start to finish, in just five weeks. All the while, she knew there was a chance that she’d lose a good portion of her hair before the big day or that she’d be losing chunks of hair on her wedding day. But only time would tell.
The planning and preparation, especially while going through treatment, was a struggle, but Natalie has had a lot of help. She credits her father and the ladies in her Zumba class for encouraging her and helping her get through this difficult time.
“I’ve got a good support network with my Zumba girls, my close friends,” says Natalie. “They come to my Zumba class, and they’re absolutely fantastic. They’ve got me through. We’ve laughed and cried.”
The big event took place on October 23, 2017, six days after Natalie’s first chemotherapy treatment. Luckily, no visible chunks of hair were shed that day, and Natalie kept her waist-length locks throughout the ceremony, reception, and all of the photographs.
Just five days later is when the real hair loss started to take place. Natalie squeezed her wedding in just before that happened, so she will always be able to look back at her wedding photos without being reminded of the physical effects cancer treatment took on her body. Now a breast cancer survivor, Natalie sports a short cropped look as she waits for her new hair to grow in.
Check out the video below to learn more about Natalie’s extraordinary life, her battle with cancer, and her dream wedding!
Natalie and her Zumba army are now fundraising for cancer research and supporting Stand Up to Cancer. Natalie hopes that her participation in the Add-Aspirin clinical trial will also help aid researchers in finding a cure.
Thank you, Natalie, for helping other women beat breast cancer!
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?