A newly married couple were celebrating a future together which almost deluded them.
Jillian Hanson and Max Allegretti became man and wife on Oct. 18. Two years ago in July 2017, Hanson was given a stage 2 breast cancer diagnosis, at just 25 years of age. She had offered Hanson, her then boyfriend an “out.”
“I brought it to the table and told him this was going to be a lot,” Hanson shared. But Allegretti did not accept it and gave up everything to be by his girlfriend’s side, he became her rock and support.
Hanson went through grueling chemotherapy in October 2017, at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Allegretti was by her side throughout the time trying to keep the love alive. “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,” he said.
“They tell you how sick you get during treatment, but no one can really prepare you for any of this,” Hanson wrote in a personal essay. “He took care of me everyday and reminded me how beautiful I was — even as my hair thinned and fell out, and my skin turned white as a ghost.”
With her last dose of chemo on Feb. 28, 2018, Allegretti got another surprise, a proposal. “I was thinking about it for a long time,” Allegretti explained. “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.”
A video of the moment when Allegritti proposes to her has gone viral and shows Hanson surrounded by her nurses and family. Then Allegretti walks in and asks for her hand in marriage. She looks shocked and says “yes,” the whole room bursts into cheers.
“I wasn’t expecting it; he made this big elaborate plan of the day,” Hanson shared. “That was the ultimate high — getting engaged brought great light to me after a really dark spot.”
With all the joy and planning that came with the prospect of an upcoming wedding, Hanson was still faced with additional treatments, tests and therapy.
But help was on its way, when in October 2018, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Hanson and Allegretti met Lauren Grech at a fundraiser for Breasties, an organization Hanson got involved in after her diagnosis.
Grech is the founder of the wedding planning company LLG Events, and when she heard their story, she wanted to surprise the engaged couple. “We wanted to give her a celebration and give them a celebration of happiness,” Grech said.
Grech’s LLG Events volunteered to do the complete wedding planning services, and got free services from some vendors as well, like The Sterling Ballroom to host the ceremony, Susan Shek Photography, Frank Ahn Films, Magic Moments, Fede Insieme and Palermo’s for the wedding cake.
Hanson’s Kenneth Winston wedding dress was also donated. “I put that dress on and I didn’t care about anything else,” Hanson said with a shocked reaction in a video filmed by her fiancé. “I felt so amazing in it.” Grech said, “I wanted to get this girl what she deserves and to feel like every other bride feels on their wedding day … to feel special,” Grech said.
“I wanted to give Jil an amazing wedding and there was no way we could have done it without them,” Allegretti said. “It’s been such a long and painful road, and there have been so many people there for us,” Hanson explained. “[This wedding] is celebrating everything — marriage, life, love, everything.”
Watch: The sweet love story of Jillian Hanson and Max Allegretti
The newlyweds have some advice for others who are in their shoes, “Be there as much as you can for the other person and keep in mind it’s temporary, and you will get back to who you were,” Allegretti said. “In our case, we came out stronger and better.”