Eighteen-year old Chase Smith is dying. That’s why he just married the love of his life. “Oh my gosh, they are so amazing together,” says his mom, Kelli Smith.
Chase married Sadie Mills, also 18, in a small ceremony in the U-shaped driveway of her family’s Indianapolis home late last month. They picked that spot because that’s where Chase parked when he picked Sadie up for their first date. It’s also where the couple shared their first kiss.
That first kiss was just a few months ago. The teens actually met last year at a swim meet but didn’t officially connect until this February at the same annual swim meet. And when they did, Kelli says, it was just plain meant to be. “They’re not like typical 18-year-olds. They’re not all ooey-gooey, it’s just a natural fit with them — they are the same person just in boy and girl form. This is really a once in a lifetime love.”
And that’s not just a romantic notion. It’s quite literally the truth. Because doctors have told Chase he has just three to five months left to live. A nationally ranked swimmer at the age of 12, he was first diagnosed with Ewing sarcoma a month after he celebrated his 13th birthday. “He had just gotten a cell phone. We were just allowing him to go off with friends without us. He was just gaining his independence when suddenly we had to be with him all the time at doctor visits and at the hospital,” Kelli remembers of that first bout with cancer.
“With Ewing sarcoma the survival rate is cut in half if it comes back, and then again every time it recurs. I knew after the third relapse what we were faced with,” Kelli says. “I knew we weren’t going to keep him forever so I just started thinking, I want him to go to prom and feel free and full of life. I want him to have a first love, a wedding, a first child.”
So she didn’t panic as most moms might when her teenage son told her he wanted to marry Sadie, the competitive diver he had quickly fallen for. He made the decision just days after doctors gave him their grim prognosis, making a point to ask her dad’s permission.
“Both are extremely driven in their respective sports … very goal-oriented … very headstrong. But they calm each other down and keep each other grounded — they’re just so good together.”
Family and friends threw together a wedding in just four days. Sadie is a model, and when she reached out to a photographer she sometimes works with, they connected her to the owner of a local bridal store. Closed because of the pandemic, the owner opened just for Sadie and her bridal party to pick a dress — free of charge. Something similar happened with the tuxedos. And the flowers, the music, the tent and the food. All donated. All in just four days. “It was beautiful. It was just perfect,” Kelli says.
Despite painful tumors pressing on his skull, Kelli says Chase was filled with pure joy at the wedding, and afterward the couple went with both of their families on a “familymoon.” “There is so much joy, and the kids are so faithful and so appreciative of what God gave them in bringing them together.”
Kelli says the couple’s faith is very important to them. They pray in the morning when they wake up, and they pray at night before bed. They are also both finishing online schooling and posing for senior pictures, all while Chase gets ready for another round of chemo and radiation. Kelli is hoping he can hang on long enough that there will be another trial. Another possible treatment. Anything to keep him alive even if for just a little bit longer.
Still she says, her son is living every day the only way he knows how. “He’s doing his best to live the few months he has left on his terms — as a newlywed having just married the love of his life.”
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