The Best of the Best 2011, Day 4
Friday, December 30, 2011 at 9:00AM
Louise in Best of 2011, Erin Pianko Howarth, Unfake Weddings

Over the holidays, I was in Topsail Beach, NC, with The Candyman and my family. The week of Christmas in BlogLand is a rather slow one. Traffic peters out because folks are busy shopping and cooking and traveling versus blog reading. I’d been pleasantly surprised that mine didn’t dip quite so much as it has in years past, but I prepared my ego for the drop all the same. 

Imagine my surprise on December 23rd when I checked in on the bliggity blog early in the morning and saw a LOT more traffic than normal. I was on vacay, so didn’t really dig into the source. Instead, I went for a walk on the winter beach. The next day, I checked in and nearly pissed myself. Traffic had SKY ROCKETED to numbers that I’d seen only when folks had built some robots to illegally vote on a photography contest I had earlier in the year.

This is not an old post. It’s recent. The reason for the high traffic? It appears that a rerun of Say Yes to the Dress that featured  my Unfake Bride, Erin Pianko Howarth had aired.  Sadly, from the time the episode first aired when Erin was in remission to the time of the rerun, Erin had lost her life to breast cancer. The Say Yes to the Dress folks added this factoid in at the end of the show and apparently it struck a cord. My traffic came from people Google-ing Erin’s obituary information.

While this broke my heart all over again, it did give me some solace knowing that perhaps her life was not lost in vain. People are reading her story, learning about Young Survival Coalition and the importance of self examination, particularly in women under 40 who aren’t privy to mammograms by the insurance giants. This makes me feel a little better.

I’m happy this was the “winning” post. As the New Year rolls around, we all start to make resolutions we won’t keep; we make promises to the gym and to our eating habits and to the nails we will no longer bite. Perhaps this post and its popularity are a sign.  Let’s give our resolutions some focus: to love as if our lives depended on it, to live each day as if it were our last, to concentrate on the joy life brings us. It looks like Erin lived life in these ways and I resolve to do my best to live similarly.

{Unfake Wedding Feature} A Tribute to the Bride

Original post date November 14, 2011

I had this wedding feature submitted to me a while back and like I do with any wedding I’m interested in featuring, I sent the photographer a copy of my “Veteran Bride” questionnaire for the bride to complete.

Often times, it takes a while for the photographer/bride to get back to me. So I follow up and generally say, “Where the hell is my questionnaire?” OK, I’m lying. I’m more polite than that. I just follow up and find out what’s going on.

I loved the look of this destination wedding and couldn’t wait to find out how the bride managed the Gandia, Spain, wedding from her home in Orlando, Florida.

I received an email from the photographer with news that the bride had passed away from Stage IV breast cancer.

Um, WHAT?

The photographer shared her Facebook page story with me and I read a few of her online obituaries to find out her story. It’s one that makes me mad (mammograms only being covered by insurance after the age of 40, Erin was 34 when she died), sad ( a young life that ended much, much too soon) and inspired (Erin’s strength in her battle against cancer).

You might recognize Erin. She was on an episode of Say Yes to the Dress (Season 5, Episode 11).

If you can get through her Facebook story (she was pregnant when she was first diagnosed) and her obituary with a dry eye, you’re a stronger person than I am.

I read that in lieu of flowers, the family wanted  donations to be made to the YSC, Young Survivors Coalition. If you’d like to honor her young life, please donate.

I rarely ask this of my readers, but those of you who blog, tweet or on Facebook, I’d love for you to share this story and the link to the Young Survivors Coalition.

Young Survival Coalition (YSC) is the premier global organization dedicated to the critical issues unique to young women who are diagnosed with breast cancer. YSC offers resources, connections and outreach so women feel supported, empowered and hopeful.

And ladies, the one thing I want us all to take away from this? If something feels wrong in your body? PAY ATTENTION. Pay for that extra office visit. Ask the questions. Demand answers. Get a second opinion, or third, or fourth if you must. Trust your gut. Self exam. As someone whose OB/GYN found a lump (it was nothing), I quickly realized how careless my self-examinations had been. Do not be sloppy. Be thorough. Be concerned. Protect yourself.

So, enough with the sad. Time for the happy. At the time of her wedding in May 2010, Erin was cancer free, living in remission.

Her wedding was held at the Borgia Palace in Gandia, Spain. Her bridal portraits taken at Xativa Castle. I’m including some causal pictures of the couple in Spain before the start of the celebration, just ‘cuz they are so darn cute.

Photographer: Andrew Morrel Photography

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Welcome to the Unfake Wedding of Erin & Adam!

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Erin lost her life to breast cancer on October 17, 2011.

In memory of Erin Pianko Howarth.

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Article originally appeared on The Thirty-Something Bride Wedding Blog (http://thirtysomethingbride.com/).
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