Bride who made ‘miracle’ recovery loses dad before he could walk her down aisle

A seriously-ill woman who made a ‘miracle’ recovery has lost her dad during the pandemic – just months before he had been due to walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.

Vanessa Erickson, 25, from Arnold, spent 10 weeks in hospital and was far too ill to attend her sister’s wedding back in May 2017.

But her sister and bride-to-be, Rebecca Alexander, popped into Queen’s Medical Centre in her wedding dress for a surprise visit on the way to the church.

Vanessa never thought she would have her own big day and at times the future looked bleak, but the 25-year-old said she kept fighting and was set to marry her childhood sweetheart, Aaron Wharton, this June.

She was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease and underwent major, life-changing surgery to remove some of her bowel after it erupted.

She lost half of her body weight and dropped from 12 to just six stone, with doctors unsure of whether she would make it.

Rebecca Alexander surprises her sister Vanessa Erickson at the QMC, hours before her wedding
Rebecca Alexander surprises her sister Vanessa Erickson at the QMC, hours before her wedding

This week, Vanessa was told that her fight is not over and she may need to have her whole bowel removed after noticing some alarming symptoms.

Vanessa, who has three other sisters, Jacqueline, Rebecca and Lindsay , always said their dad, Andrew Erickson, 58, would walk them all down the aisle on their each of their wedding days.

Having walked both Jacqueline and Rebecca down the aisle, it looked like Vanessa would be next when she planned to marry her partner this month.

But tragedy hit during lockdown when their dad got seriously ill with pneumonia in March.

No coronavirus test was taken but the family said he showed no symptoms of the virus.

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Miss Erickson told Nottinghamshire Live: “We went to see him a week prior to him passing away. We had not been back a week and got the news that dad was not going to make it.

“Three of us are in Nottingham and he was in Wales. We got our stuff together and were just about to leave but at 1.20pm on March 20, he had passed away.

“We did not get down there to say goodbye. My dad is one of those people who will speak his mind but he always put his kids first.

“You could spend hours on the phone talking to him, nagging about the other sisters.

Family picture of dad with his daughters - Vanessa Erickson, Andrew Erickson, Jacqueline (in the wedding dress), Lindsay and Rebecca
Family picture of dad with his daughters – Vanessa Erickson, Andrew Erickson, Jacqueline (in the wedding dress), Lindsay and Rebecca

“He walked Jacqueline and Rebecca down the aisle and he was going to walk me and Lindsay but we have put the wedding on hold.

“He was my dad and he was always going to be that person who would walk me down the aisle so it will be hard when he doesn’t. It will be my mum now.

She said one of her fondest memories of her dad is he would always come to Nottingham in his Cardiff City football shirt to “show off” on who he felt was the better team.

Andrew Erickson with footballer Gareth Bale
Andrew Erickson with footballer Gareth Bale

The family plan to attend a Cardiff and Forest game in his memory.

Miss Erickson said the fight is still not over as she prepares for an MRI scan, with the possibility of having her whole bowel removed.

“Just when I thought I was getting better, this came,” she added. “With coronavirus I am not allowed into the hospital because of everything that is going on.

“I am high risk because of my Crohn’s disease. But I am feeling good in myself.”

She is now waiting for a date to be seen by her consultant, but is optimistic with a family holiday planned to Butlins next year.

She said: “With my dad passing away, life is short; a wedding is money to change your last name but anything can happen to my family so spending time with them is what is important to me.”

She is yet to reschedule a date for her wedding.

Nottinghamshire Live – Local News