Father of groom connects to wedding guests from Hopkins via Skype

Cancer patient had surgery just 10 days before his youngest son's wedding

  • Cancer patient Jack Shockney, 73, and his wife, Marie, 71, watch guests stream into the wedding reception for his youngest son from the hospital room at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center via Skype.
Cancer patient Jack Shockney, 73, and his wife, Marie, 71, watch… (Jessica Anderson, BALTIMORE…)
April 08, 2011|By Jessica Anderson, The Baltimore Sun

In just a few quick bursts, Jack Shockney was able to make out, on a laptop screen, the white canopy tent adorned with white paper lanterns and white twinkling lights, and a quick glimpse of his youngest son just before his wedding ceremony Friday.

Shockney, 73, who was confined to his hospital room at the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center on North Broadway, along with his wife Marie, 71, attempted to watch his son take his vows using Skype, an online video communications service. This is the first time a Hopkins patient has ever attended a wedding from his bed, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Just 10 days before the wedding, Shockney had to have surgery to remove one-thirdof his colon, after a colonoscopy revealed cancer last month.

Shockney recalled saying to his son, Anthony, 42, a Baltimore City firefighter, "He was talking about postponing, but I said 'don't you dare,'".

Anthony Shockney, 42, a Baltimore City firefighter, married his longtime girlfriend, Margaret Nowaczyk, 26, a supervisor for the Frederick County Firefighters on Friday afternoon, under a tent and in heavy rain, outside the Vandiver Inn in Havre de Grace. The two met through the Arbutus Volunteer Fire Department and live in West Virginia.

In preparation for this wedding, the elder Shockney had bought a suit and shoes and rented a hotel room before finding out he would not be able to attend. He had surgery March 30 at Hopkins.

"I figured with the seriousness of the operation, I was not going to make it" to the wedding, he said.

Marie Shockney said they were going to wait to do the surgery until after the wedding and treat him with chemotherapy, but the doctors were concerned that it might give him a heart attack.

She said, "At least they are going through with the wedding," adding that she told their granddaughter to take "lots of pictures."

But by the wedding day, Shockney said, "I feel good now. It really hasn't been all that bad, but of course you say that at the end," he said. He expects to be released on Tuesday.

Although the couple attempted to use Skype to watch the ceremony, a weak Internet connection prevented them.

"I won't get upset. Let them have their day, let them have fun," Shockney said.

After about 20 minutes and after the screen had gone blank, Marie Shockney answered her cellphone. "Are they getting married now?" she shouted. "Oh, the ceremony is over," she said to the room.

"Well that's OK, we'll have lots of pictures. You were more important," Marie Shockney said, grabbing her husband's hand.

The couple, who have been married 12 years, met while she was working for Superfresh and Shockney was a route salesmen for Schmidt Baking Co. They married at the Westminster Courthouse.

They were finally able to reconnect with the wedding guests during the cocktail hour inside the inn, where the Internet connection was better. One of Shockney's granddaughters appeared on the screen.

"Hi, Danielle," he said. "That's my granddaughter, she's in the Air Force," he said, as she turned and showed her stripes to the webcam.

"I heard you are feeling better," she said.

"I am now that I see you," Shockney responded.

After about an hour, the bride appeared and her white satin dress and sparkling necklace gleamed, even in the low light. A large smile came across Shockney's and his wife's faces. They got to be there for at least part of the celebration.

jkanderson@baltsun.com

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