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David Mittleman
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Strangers Donate Wedding Services to Bride Faced With Terminal Cancer

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A California bride faced with a rare and aggressive form of breast cancer was recently the focus of an uplifting story that made me believe, once again, in the good nature of most people. Jennifer Batugo, 29, was given just a few months to live about a month after her fiance proposed on Valentine's Day. She faces angiosarcoma of the breast and immediately began aggressive weekly chemotherapy treatments and knew that her August wedding may not become a reality unless she moved the date up. Thankfully, many unexpected people came to her aid to help her accomplish the dream.

Batugo met her fiance, Brian Gargano, through a long-distance whirlwind romance. He is employed as a respiratory therapist in Arizona and she as a gynecology oncology nurse at a hospital. Gargano immediately suggested that they move their original planned August wedding date to April, but had little idea of how they would pay for it, let alone arrange for it. Nevertheless, Gargano placed a called to L.A. wedding officiant Elyse Skye, who little did he know, is also a breast cancer survivor. Skye lept into action, and, in fact, runs a nonprofit organization for breast cancer support. Primarily, she raised funds for Batugo's medical bills and wedding expenses through a indiegogo fundraising campaign and has already reached $13,000. She also convinced many top L.A. wedding vendors to donate their services, including Yamashiro Hollywood's spectacular Japanese Garden venue.

The couple reflects that having something to help them see the brighter side of life has lifted Jennifer's fighting spirit. Jenn says that there are many bad things to focus on, but that having so many people come to her aid is inspiring. The father-daughter dance was particularly special for the couple; instead of doing the traditional routine, Jenn and Brian decided to dance with one another's parents. Seeing 6-foot tall Brian dancing with Jenn's tiny mother left not a dry eye in the house while "Don't Worry Baby" by the Beach Boys played on.