She gave him an ‘out’ after her cancer diagnosis – he responded by seeing her through treatment and proposing
Some people run from adversity. It’s the natural thing to do. Sometimes, however, life brings you that special someone willing to embrace adversity without a second thought.
Jillian Hanson didn’t truly know what she had in her long-time boyfriend Max Allegretti until adversity showed up at her front door.
“Max and I met in college our senior year,” said Jillian in a personal essay.
“I was looking to be more social on my campus and saw a sign on someone’s door looking for teammates for a dodgeball tournament team. I was signing the whiteboard on their door when this incredibly handsome guy and his roommate walked up behind me.”
Although their romantic relationship didn’t begin until after she graduated, it didn’t take her long after to sense she had found something special. “I knew he was the one after a month of us dating. I never usually move that fast, but something about him was different.”
This inkling proved dead on as she was diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer at just 25. With such an arduous road ahead of her, she knew that she couldn’t expect Max to endure it with her. So, knowing the situation, Jillian offered Max an “out.”
To her surprise and joy, he didn’t take it.
“He told me that he would never leave my side,” said Jillian, “and he never has. He told me that I was the strongest woman he knew and that this whole experience has made him love me more.”
Jillian’s road to recovery included a mastectomy of her left breast, the removal of five lymph nodes, fertility treatments to freeze her eggs, 16 rounds of chemotherapy for five months, plastic surgery, 25 rounds of radiation, and infusion treatments every three weeks.
“They tell you how sick you get during treatment, but no one can really prepare you for any of this,” said Jillian.
Every step of the way Max and his family was there for her. “He took care of me every day and reminded me how beautiful I was — even as my hair thinned and fell out, and my skin turned white as a ghost,” said Jillian.
“Even though it was hard for Jil to go out and have energy, I tried to plan little things here and there, surprises, going to the movies . . . just to normalize the situation,” said Max in an interview with Good Morning America.
On Jillian’s last day of chemotherapy, Max wanted to do something special. There really was only thing left to do: propose!
“I was thinking about it for a long time,” said Max. “I spoke with her family and friends, and we all decided it would bring a lot more joy even to the special day it was going to be already.”
“I wasn’t expecting it,” said Jillian. “He made this big elaborate plan of the day. That was the ultimate high — getting engaged brought great light to me after a really dark spot.”
But as wonderful as an engagement is, it comes with its own complications. Planning a wedding takes time and not a little bit of money. Combined with Jillian’s recovery, they both knew it would be a challenge.
But sometimes fate has a way of working things out. For Jillian and Max, fate took the form of Lauren Grech, founder of LLG Events. Lauren became affiliated with Jillian and Max through Breasties, a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting young women affected by cancer.
After meeting at a fundraiser and hearing their story, Lauren knew immediately she wanted to do something special for them, so her and her organization decided to donate their full wedding planning services, which included donations from a variety of vendors.
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J I L L I A N + M A X // It's an exciting day for LLG Events… Jillian, a 26-year-old #BreastCancerSurvivor and NY Ambassador for @the_breasties, and her fiancé Max, who were selected as our 2019 Pro Bono Wedding Of The Year couple, have finally tied the knot! October 18th, 2019 was a beautiful day celebrating life and love. Congratulations to this amazing couple – we wish you both a lifetime of health and happiness. If you want a glimpse into this joyous day, tune into @goodmorningamerica on Monday for an exclusive look into Jillian and Max’s wedding, and their inspiring love story. A HUGE thank you to all of the kindhearted vendors who have contributed to and made our 2019 Pro Bono Wedding Of The Year possible: Event Planning, Design + Execution: @llgevents Photography: @susanshekphotography Videography: @frankahnfilms Ceremony Venue: @sterlingballroom Reception Venue: @618restaurant Hotel: @doubletree Florist: @houseofbloomsnj Bride's Attire: @kennethwinston Groom’s Attire: @tuxedobysarno Hair + MUA: @fedeinsieme Stationery: @mintedweddings DJ: @magicmomentsnj Cake: @palermosbakery Photobooth: @hollywoodsmilephotobooth Transportation: @ridefirstclasslimo Officiant: @spiritheartsweddings
Everything from the location, to the photos, to the music, to the makeup, to the Kenneth Winston wedding dress was provided for. Not to mention the cake!
“I wanted to get this girl what she deserves and to feel like every other bride feels on their wedding day. . . to feel special,” said Lauren.
The couple was absolutely overwhelmed with the love they felt around them.
“It’s been such a long and painful road, and there have been so many people there for us,” said Jillian. “[This wedding] is celebrating everything — marriage, life, love, everything.”
Everything came to fruition on October 19, 2019, and the happily married couple is now happy, healthy, and well on their way toward the next chapter in their life cancer-free — with some wedding memories that will last a lifetime.