Children share memories of late mom’s cancer battle, double wedding

WEST MICHIGAN -- Melanoma may have claimed Rhonda White's life, but it didn't claim her spirit. Her children said she kept her sense of humor during her two-and-a-half month battle. She not only lived to marry her man, but she also watched her daughter say ‘I do.’

Jordan White, one of Rhonda's daughters said, "I'm really glad to be in the room when that happened."

She said it was a day to remember. It was, perhaps, one of her happiest days which came toward the end of Rhonda White's life. Her hospital wedding was prompted by a grim diagnosis.

Jordan said, "What had happened was she jumped out of bed at like 1:00 in the morning screaming that she had to go to the hospital. My mom had always suffered from headaches, and she said her head was killing her. So we just thought that it was a really bad migraine."

After several tests doctors gave bad news.

Jordan said, "It started as brain cancer, then lung cancer and then it was metastatic melanoma."

Rhonda was given just hours, maybe days or weeks to live. Brieannah, another daughter who was engaged, couldn't stand the thought of her mother not being at her wedding. So Rhonda followed through on something her boyfriend Brian had asked her to do before.

Jordan recalled, "She jumped out of bed and said, 'Baby, will you marry me?"

It was on. In short time, the family had a double wedding inside Spectrum Health. Mother and daughter married the loves of the lives with dozens family members and friends sharing in the moment.

"We have so many pictures and so many smiles. My mom ended up saying this was the first day in 25 years that she hasn't had a headache," Jordan recalled.

She said, "You probably couldn't even tell that she was sick besides the IVs in her hands, but it was so amazing and she was so happy and as soon as they saw each other they started bawling. I was like, 'You guys, knock it off.'"

While melanoma is represented by a black ribbon, the family is  'purple strong'. Purple was their mom's favorite color.

Rhonda's son, Derek Conner said, "She's a little bit color blind, and purple she can see really well. So every single thing in her house is purple: her shutters, her car, her cooking utensils, her whole bedroom."

These are memories of a mother and grandmother who ended her life on a high note despite a somber end.

Derek explained, "She worked two, three, four jobs. Doing cake business on the side, she was always just trying to make money to pay the bills.

Jordan added, "She worked hard her entire life, and it really shows."

She said the outpouring of support has been great.

"Everything, everything that's happening for her right now, I wish she was here to see it because it's absolutely amazing," she said.

The family set up a Gofundme page for help with Rhonda White's pre-existing bills and primarily medical expenses. A benefit is taking place in Sheridan on Sunday at RJ's Sports Bar to help with those costs.

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