Terminal cancer sufferer Kayleigh Duff on her wish list wedding day with her stand in groom male model Danny Wisker.
Kayleigh Duff, 23, was devastated last February when doctors told her an hereditary gene defect had developed into terminal liver cancer. The same rare disease killed her father Lee Duff at the age of 37 in 1998.
Single Miss Duff started chemotherapy in March and drew up a bucket list of things to do before she died – including getting married. But even though she has no current partner her best friend Katie Birch organised the big day for her on Tuesday – calling in a handsome male model to play Mr Right.
A smiling Miss Duff was pampered with hair and make-up artists before being whisked to fairytale venue Whitstable Castle in Kent in a vintage Jaguar. Guests included her mum Beverley Cox, 46, grandparents Sharon, 70, and Ian Day, 71, and two-year-old son Kai.
And waiting for her was a model booked for the day to play the dutiful role of her groom. The guests drank champagne and a wedding cake while the “bride” posed for pictures. Tearful Miss Duff, from Herne Bay, Kent, said: “The groom was so nice and was really handsome.
“It was a bit awkward at first because obviously it’s a bizarre situation – I couldn’t stop laughing. “I didn’t expect any of it, it was mad. It really was a dream come true. It was great. “The dress was beautiful – it really was. The castle and everything were just beautiful.
“Katie has done wonders. When she said I was having a photoshoot I thought it would be just me in a dress. She has done really well.” Proud mother Beverley said: “She looked beautiful. Kayleigh always wanted to get married and wear a lovely dress.
“It’s been quite overwhelming. You see Kayleigh with a nice young man on her arm and you forget about what is going on. “It was like it was really happening for her and although it’s not going to be for real, to us it was real and we have got lovely pictures and memories. “It is a beautiful dress. It looks like it was made for her.”
Miss Duff suffers from a rare hereditary genetic disorder called Familial adenomatous polyposis which causes polyps to grow on the large intestine – raising the risk of developing cancer.
She was first diagnosed with cancer last June and doctors operated on her to remove the growths.
But in February follow-up tests found the illness had spread to her bloodstream and medics told her she will never be fully rid of it.Instead they hope to prolong her life by keeping the cancer at bay with regular chemotherapy.
Miss Duff has been forced to leave her job as a kitchen assistant as she wants to devote as much time as possible to son Kai.She has also started a bucket list of dreams including days out with her son to the London Aquariam, Madame Tussauds and Legoland.
Miss Duff said: “I take every day as it comes, but most of the time I’m all right.
“When I have my long chemotherapy session for 10 hours once a month, that knocks me out and I sleep all the time. I cannot drink or eat.
“After that, I’m back to my normal self again. That treatment knocks me out for a few days and then I’m fine.”
Wedding planner Katie, 28, said: “I saw the wedding was on her wish list so I decided to arrange the whole thing.
“Everyone has helped and donated because she is such a nice person. “She looked absolutely beautiful. She was so stunning.”