Credit: Retrospect Images
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - Last month, 27-year-old Caleigh Haber married the love of her life and promised her groom that every second she was here on this earth, she would dedicate herself to him and "never stop fighting to stay alive."
It was a dream come true wedding for the Bay Area woman who is living with cystic fibrosis (CF), received a double lung transplant two years ago and then later learned that her body had rejected the new organs.
The Oct. 28th nuptials were initially planned as an engagement party.
But about a week prior, Haber and her soon-to-be husband, Bryan Takayama, had what was described as "a complete shift in perspective," according to a GoFundMe page set up for the couple.
The San Francisco woman had just met with her transplant team. Faced with limited options, she and her fiancé decided to focus on making the most of every moment they had together.
"Neither of us wanted to waste a day alive not being all in with one another," Haber told KTVU.
So through the help of family, friends, and complete strangers alike, incredibly, a wedding was planned in just six days.
The "last minute union" came together with donations that covered everything from the wedding venue, food, make-up and hair, music, and even Haber's wedding dress.
The fairy tale event was held in Atheron and came exactly one year after the couple first met at their friends' wedding, where Haber coincidentally caught the bride's bouquet.
"It was completely platonic on my end but Bryan refers it to love at first sight," Haber recalled.
The night they met, the two hung out, Haber told KTVU, and at one point her future husband looked at her and said, "'This will be a story we tell all our friends at our wedding.' And crazy enough we did just that," she said.
On the day of their own nuptials, they recited their vows under an arch of white roses.
On Instagram, Haber posted the promise she made to the love of her life. She said she was sorry that she would not always be by his side, but promised this-- no matter what the future held:
"I will walk with you, Hand in hand, Wherever our journey leads us... I will dream with you, celebrate with you and be your partner through whatever our lives may bring."
When asked what the highlight of their wedding was, the newlyweds both said among all of the magical moments, they will never forget their first dance which was to Jason Mraz's "I'm Yours."
"It was a chance for us to intimately share a few moments to a song that holds true importance to us and for us to be just us," said Takayama.
His new wife noted what a good dancer and wonderful caretaker he is.
"He spun me around and kissed me as if it was only us in the room," Haber recalled. "By the end of the song I was having a hard time breathing so I whispered to Bryan and being the perfect man he is, he picked me up and held me as he looked into each others and told each we loved one another."
After the wedding, close friend Tiffany Au said that many people continued to ask how they can help the newlyweds, so they decided to set up the GoFundMe campaign for the couple to have a dream honeymoon in Hawaii, a trip which Au noted has been approved by Haber's medical team.
But to make the trip possible, Haber will require an on-call medical care team on-hand and will have to continue receiving treatment.
Extra money raised will then be used to pay for medical bills for Haber and others, as part of her ongoing efforts to bring awareness of cystic fibrosis.
On social media, Haber has candidly shared her journey living with CF, a progressive, genetic disease that causes chronic lung infections and over time limits the ability to breathe.
On her @fight2breath Instagram, she describes that she is chronicling her "decision to live" and trying to re-list for a second transplant.
Because her body rejected the new organs, she is considered a high-risk patient and has been widely denied eligibility as a recipient for a second lung transplant.
"We are working to get in the doors at other transplant centers in the US that accept higher risk patients," she told KTVU.
"If I am not eligible at any hospital I will have to look further into other forms of therapies to extend quality of life. Right now I cannot choose to accept the possibly a second transplant won't happen," Haber said.
On Friday, Haber posted an update on how married life is going, along with a photo of her with an oxygen tube and sitting happily with her new husband in Palm Springs, where they were attending a friend's wedding.
"Enjoying our first week as a married couple with virgin margaritas and watching people dance the night away!" Haber wrote. "I am so lucky to have a love so deep my husband (!!!!) pulls my oxygen around while we dance to live music."
Among the list of hashtags that went along with the post, was #livelovelaugh.
Amid the marital bliss, Haber continues to struggle with her health.
"Since our wedding day my health has continued to decline," she said. "But we make the most of every situation... I know it sounds cliche but its true. I've never felt a truer love in my life," she added.
Haber's love story has been widely shared and so has her efforts to bring awareness to the disease she is living with.
In a post over the weekend, she wrote, "Let’s make CF stand for Cure Found!! • As the news of our love and marriage continues to spread, we remain honored, humbled, and thankful to put a spotlight on healthcare and the illnesses that millions of people suffer around the world!"
She told KTVU she has been touched and moved by the kindness and generosity from so many people, including those the couple has never met.
"Going through this experience has restored the confidence and hope for selflessness in total strangers... Our wedding has demonstrated to people nationwide that humanity is still the greatest example for love, generosity, and union."
In keeping with the promise she made to her groom, Haber also noted that she will not stop fighting to live and will continue to believe that she will receive another chance with another transplant.
"It seems like a long shot but my family and I have been told numerous times I wouldn't survive health obstacles and I am still alive today," Haber said.
And meanwhile, she said she would continue to soak in the beauty and magic of everyday as a newlywed with her new husband.
"My biggest hope is that my family has positive memories of me to hold onto and that when it is my time to pass it is somewhere we can all be surrounded by love, laughter, and in our 'happy place'."