Former Page High School sweethearts are trying to win the wedding of a lifetime after a trying year.
Mary Stanton Coltrane and Matthew Mills are Greensboro natives currently living in Charlotte. They met as teens when Mary was good friends with Matthew's sister and dated through college when Mary Stanton was at UNC and Matthew at UVA. They're now engaged, but not without a major hurdle last year.
In March 2017, Mary Stanton was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. At just 23 years old, Mary Stanton underwent 12 rounds of chemotherapy. After all that, a scan later that year revealed her cancer came back. The best shot at a cure was to undergo a stem cell transplant, which involved new chemotherapy treatments followed by a three-week stay in the isolation wing of the hospital.
"The stem cell transplant process is really brutal," Mary Stanton said. "You're in a lot of isolation. You can't be around a lot of people."
Matthew remained by her side, staying on a pullout couch to give her support. In December 2017, Matthew proposed after nine years of dating.
"I couldn't have gotten through any of it without him," said Mary Stanton of Matthew.
Mary Stanton completed the stem cell transplant in February, says she's in remission now and is welcoming a return to normalcy.
"I've surpassed some benchmarks and I'm going back out in public," Mary Stanton said. "I'm starting to live a normal life again."
Now they're hoping for some more good news: A free wedding.
One lucky couple living in the Carolinas will be awarded an all-expenses-paid, 100-guest wedding at Kimpton Tryon Park in 2019 as part of the Charlotte hotel's 'Love Conquers All' contest.
"It would mean everything to win," Mary Stanton said. "It's obviously been a really tough year. This wedding is the light at the end of the tunnel."
Mary Stanton and Matthew are one of three couples with inspiring stories that are finalists for the prize. The hotel website says they're in search of a couple that's overcome a significant challenge together.
You can vote for them through April 21 at the hotel's website.