TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — For friends and colleagues of Rob and Christine Lewis, there was no doubt Tampa Bay Lightning hockey would play a role in their wedding day. This couple is known for their love of the game. In fact, they say it literally saved Christine’s life.
So, how exactly did hockey inspire a victorious battle with a deadly disease?
To understand the answer, you have to know the powerful and determined spirit of Christine. The words, “I can’t,” simply do not exist in her vocabulary.
She is a survivor, a warrior and doesn’t believe in the toxicity of a negative attitude.
She will not tolerate it—from anyone. In her soft-spoken and kind voice, she will look you in the eye and tell you, “I believe.”
As a matter of fact, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer diagnosis—not once, but twice, she refused to accept anything less than a life that allowed her to survive and thrive. This woman has strength of iron and a will to match.
That strength came from several inspiring sources—her then-fiancé, her faith, her friends and colleagues and her hockey team.
The Tampa Bay Lightning, she says, helped her beat cancer. Her for the game strengthened her fight for survival. Her team and her fellow fans gave her the energy to keep going. But, these weren’t just any Bolts fans—these were die-hard, never-miss-any-games, passionate people who were fellow members of the ultimate hockey fan group, Sticks of Fire.
“We have been through so much together; they’ve always been there for me,” Christine said. “I am blessed. People say, ‘You had both of your breasts taken off, you’re going through chemo,’ and I say, ‘Yes, and these people are here for me,’” she told News Channel 8.
So, when the couple got engaged at—where else—a Lightning game at Amalie Arena, the approaching wedding day had to incorporate some sort of a hockey theme. They decided—go big or go home. The wedding would be on game day, near the arena with the game itself serving as the reception. Oh, and did we mention they decided on a toga wedding? As the day drew near, the couple began organizing the event, along with their fellow Sticks Of Fire members. But, nothing could prepare them for what would happen on Saturday.
As they kicked off their wedding day itinerary, they were in store for a moment they’d never forget. The bride and groom were shocked as they began the day at a surprise morning skate at Amalie Arena where the Lightning practiced for Saturday night’s game against the Florida Panthers. But, the real surprise with yet to come. As they walked through the tunnel to the ice, they received the most delightful surprise. And, it was epic. Her all-time favorite player, defenseman Victor Hedman, walked out with a smile on his face and said, “Hello Christine, I hear this is a big day for you.”
The bride’s eyes grew wide with tears. She and her husband-to-be were speechless. They couldn’t believe it. They both beamed as they chatted with the Bolts superstar player who wished them well on the wedding. Then, #77 shared another message of kindness that meant the world to them on their big day. He congratulated Christine as she was celebrating not only her nuptials, but also celebrating life after beating breast cancer. “You’re going to have to sandblast the smile off my face,” Christine said later, laughing. “I just can’t believe it, I can’t believe he was here! What a way to start the day. Oh my gosh!”
It was, indeed, a dream come true for this bride and breast cancer survivor. In the very tunnel that leads to a place where she found so much inspiration during her fight with a deadly disease, Christine’s heart was once-again filled with the epic strength she’s thrived on all along. Her favorite Bolts player, in her favorite place, next to her favorite person in the world gave to Christine her favorite thing—positivity.
The couple enjoyed a wedding day of epic proportions. It was perfect, they say, from start to finish. It was filled with endless joy, laughter, sheer joy – and of course, hockey. They dressed in togas with all of their closest friends from Sticks of Fire and took their vows in the shadow of Amalie Arena.
They celebrated with a massive tailgate, then marched to the arena for their reception—an NHL game where the Bolts skated to a victory against the Florida Panthers, 3-2.
A wedding day to remember—celebrating life, love and hockey.
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