A WOULD-BE BRIDE is hoping to tie the knot before her lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis gets worse.
Dawn Braham, 41, wants to marry the man who she fell in love with “at first sight” more than four years ago.
Taxi driver Geof Patterson, 39, is the rock who keeps her positive when her fight with cystic fibrosis (CF) becomes difficult to bear.
She needs 60 tablets and two bouts of physiotherapy a day to cope with the condition.
“I don’t know what I would do without Geof,” said mum-of-one Dawn, of The Grove, in Greatham. “He has been a godsend for me.”
The couple have become the first entrants in this year’s Bride of the Year competition run by the Hartlepool Mail in conjunction with Robert Usher Photography.
One lucky couple will collect the dream prize of a £12,000 wedding in September, with the ceremony on board HMS Trincomalee and the reception at the Sir William Gray Suite.
Dawn, a mobile beauty therapist who is mum to Dan Braham, 22, has a form of CF that affects her lungs and leaves her with a permanent chest infection.
She said: “I have to take tablets with everything I eat as my pancreas does not secrete enzymes.”
Her health problems go even further.
She explained: “I also got diagnosed with diabetes three years ago and have a fatty liver due to CF which can progress to cirrhosis. My diabetes has worryingly started to damage my eyes which was a bit of a shock, but hopefully with the correct treatment, this will not get any worse.
“I try not to let things get me down but sometimes inevitably they do,” she added.
The couple first met in October 2007 during a night out in Hartlepool.
“It was love at first sight. We hit it off straight away and spent the rest of the evening talking, laughing and getting to know each other”, said Dawn.
They had their first date at the cinema the next day and Dawn added: “I was on cloud nine and so excited.”
Her future health is filled with uncertainties.
Dawn explained: “CF affects the internal organs, especially the lungs and digestive system, by clogging them with thick sticky mucus. This makes it hard to breathe and digest food.
“Geof helps with my physiotherapy and looks after me if I feel unwell. He helps me keep positive when I have a dull moment and his sense of humour keeps me going. He always makes me laugh.”
As well as CF, Dawn also has diabetes - but a third health battle was the spur for her and Geof to decide they wanted to marry.
Dawn said: “The real turning point for us was in September last year when I had a cancer scare after finding a lump in my left breast. I was sent to James Cook University Hospital for a mammogram, scan and biopsy which was a very scary time for me, but when I got the all clear Geof suggested that we should get married.
“We are so in love and it would be a dream come true to win Bride of the Year.
“It will take us years to save for our wedding and it would be amazing if we could get married before my health deteriorates.”