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Unexpected Surgery Brings Test of Faith and Love

Just days before their wedding, a Bucks County couple was faced with a test of faith and love.

Ryan and Rachel Richardson

During almost any wedding ceremony, couples make a vow to love each other “for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health.” For newlyweds Ryan and Rachel Richardson, of Bucks County, those vows were put to the test before they even said “I do.”

In June, just two weeks before their wedding, Rachel was struck with pain and abnormal bleeding.

“I was having a lot of back pain and I started spotting in between periods. I wasn’t sure what was happening so I decided to go to my doctor,” said Rachel.

An ultrasound later revealed that she had a cyst on her ovary. In many cases, functional cysts can shrink on their own over time so Rachel was first advised to wait it out. Unfortunately more than a week later, her pain persisted.

“My cousin and my brother are both in the nursing field and they told us we had to advocate for ourselves,” said Ryan. “Rachel was still in pain and we had to get to the bottom of it. That’s when we decided to go to Abington.”

Unexpected News

In the middle of the night, the couple made the 40 minute drive to Abington Hospital’s Emergency Trauma Center, where Rachel underwent tests and bloodwork. The diagnosis was more serious than first thought.

“It was clear that Rachel had a serious cyst that would require surgery so a multidisciplinary team of specialists in benign gynecology, gynecology-oncology and radiology immediately kicked into high gear,” said David J. DeFilippis, MD, obstetrician-gynecologist, Abington Hospital - Jefferson Health. “The goal was to plan a minimally invasive procedure, if possible, so Rachel and Ryan could hopefully keep their wedding plans.”

Surgery was the best course of action, after which a biopsy would confirm whether the cyst was malignant or benign. The couple knew it was a decision that would mean a last minute change of plans for their wedding.

“I started crying as I was trying to wrap my head around everything,” said Rachel. “At this point, our wedding was in two days. We could have tried to push the surgery until after the wedding but this was serious; we knew we couldn’t wait.”

“Our faith is so important to us. We prayed and God gave us such peace about it. We knew this was the best decision,” said Ryan.

Amidst the unexpected news, Rachel says she was struck by the compassion and kindness of the doctors and nurses caring for her.

“As soon as I walked through the door, I felt so taken care of. From the ER staff to the doctors and nurses on my unit, everyone was so kind and helpful. Amy, one of my nurses, even called to check on me the next day, although she was off,” said Rachel. “I could tell that everyone really cared, and it was so reassuring.”

Whirlwind Wedding

Rachel underwent surgery on Friday morning and was discharged the next day. On Sunday, she and Ryan tied the knot in a small and intimate ceremony with close family.

“The Saturday that Rachel came home was actually supposed to be our wedding day,” said Ryan. “But thankfully the surgery went well and with the help of our families, we were able to push the wedding back to the next day.

“Our wedding day was beautiful. Both of our families were really supportive and they helped with everything – from the food, to the flowers to the photographer – everything was great,” said Rachel.

Shortly after the wedding, the couple received good news: a biopsy found that the cyst was benign and Rachel was able to make a full recovery. Now looking back, the newlyweds say that this unexpected experience turned out to be a blessing.

“It was a difficult situation to go through, but at the same time, it taught us so much,” said Rachel. “More than anything, it tested our love and faith, but it also strengthened our love and faith, and it has made us appreciate life so much more.”

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