Couple elopes on Aquabus after groom’s Stage 4 cancer diagnosis
Published Wednesday, December 21, 2016 5:45PM PST
Last Updated Friday, December 23, 2016 1:02PM PST
Sooner or later, Chris Walters and Jana Buhlmann knew they would marry each other – but six weeks ago, timing became an issue.
Chris, they learned, is suffering from Stage 4 colon cancer.
The B.C. couple had only been together for a couple years when they received the troubling news. They met using an online dating site, Chris said, and fell fast in love.
"We got along right off the hop," he told CTV News. "We just clicked."
After receiving the diagnosis in November, one of the first decisions they made was to tie the knot, cancer be damned.
"[We] decided we wanted to get married – that we still wanted that," Jana said. "And there's no time like the present."
For Chris, the wedding was something to look forward to. Something to feel good about.
Faced with trying chemotherapy treatments, the couple didn't want the stress of a big wedding. Instead, Jana came up with a unique proposal: they would get married on the Aquabus, the small ferries that take people up and down False Creek in Vancouver.
It was meaningful for a number of reasons. They went on some of their first dates on Granville Island, and Chris has always loved being on the water.
"We knew what we wanted and she made it perfect," he said. "It checked every box."
They found an officiant on Craigslist and set the date for Dec. 17. The size of the boat didn't allow for many guests; just a small handful of family members joined them in person for the ceremony.
But knowing there would be many others who would want to share in their special day, the couple decided to live-stream the ceremony on Facebook.
"The whole thing was, it's Christmas time… [people] can stay at home, they can shop, they can save their money, they don't have to worry about it,” Chris said.
They expected a couple dozen people might tune in. So far, nearly 800 well-wishers have watched their vows.
"We had people from England stay up late in their pajamas and pour a glass of red wine to watch with us," Jana said. "The amount of love that's come our direction is almost overwhelming."
"It just feels good to have the encouragement. It's nice with some of the other stuff that's going on," Chris added.
And though it’s only been a few days, so far being married has provided a wonderful distraction from their worries.
"It really builds you up. We feel like newlyweds," Chris said. "I'm sick… but then we're also setting up home, our new home together, and that's cool. That helps a lot."