Most of us don’t want to remember the most difficult times of our lives, especially not while right in the midst of celebrating the happiest times of our lives. But there are some inspirational and strong individuals out there who can turn painful memories into positive motivation — and manage to hold both things in mind simultaneously. Exhibit A: Kierstynn Foster Rozema, who spent her late teens fighting leukemia, and just returned to the hospital that treated her for a beautiful wedding photo session.
“It’s one of my favorite places,” Foster Rozema told Spectrum Health’s Healthbeat of the mural at the Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she and Daniel Rozema posed for photos last weekend.
Foster Rozema was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in May 2011, when she was 16 and a junior in high school. She underwent treatment — chemotherapy, blood transfusions, and bone marrow aspirations — for the rest of high school and into her freshman year at Hope College.
“The people at Helen DeVos have basically become my family,” she said. “All the support they gave through the treatment and even after ― I just feel such an immense connection to this place.”
That’s why even after her treatment was behind her, Foster Rozema continued her relationship with the hospital. She helped raise money for the hospital through her college’s annual Dance Marathon, and became one of the organization’s directors in her senior year. She also became involved in the Make-a-Wish foundation, and found a job with the non-profit after graduating last year.
She met Dan Rozema her freshman year of college, when they were both involved in a musical theater performance of a show called Nykerk. According to their wedding website on The Knot, she had a crush on him for years, though they were just friends until the end of their junior year.
“The next year was a whirlwind — coaching Nykerk, working, and making plans for life after graduation,” the couple wrote on their website. “During this time, Dan decided that he wanted Kierstynn to be a part of those plans, so on May 1, one week before graduation in their favorite spot on Lake Michigan, Dan proposed to Kierstynn and she said yes!”
Foster Rozema didn’t always think this would happen for her. “[During treatment] I wondered if I would ever get that experience to marry someone,” she told Spectrum Health. “As time went on and I got healthier, there still was a question of, ‘Will I find someone who’s OK with this? Am I going to find someone who understands?’
It seems like Rozema truly does, judging by what he told the site: “It takes a very strong person to go through that. It amazes me how positive her outlook is.”
That’s why the newlyweds and their family rode up to the hospital in a white limo after the wedding ceremony to have their photos taken. They posed with two of her doctors, Beth Kurt and James Fahner.
“It’s a dream come true. It really is,” Kurt said of seeing her former patient get married. “It is so gratifying. You can’t even imagine.”
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