Clay & Mariah's Cancer, Engagement, Faith Journey

Clay and Mariah both received cancer diagnoses within eight days of each other this year as they make plans for their wedding.
 
Join us in being part of Clay & Mariah's Cloud of Witnesses through your prayers, support, and encouragement
 
Cheering them on as they take steps toward their wedding day, fighting cancer and keeping their eyes fixed on the author and perfector of their faith! (Hebrews 12:1)
 
 
 
 
This GoFundMe is a special one meant to be a blessing and gift of support to Mariah Nelesen and Clay Slenk assisting with expenses they face:
 
  • Medical bills,
  • Home payments,
  • Lost income from hospital stays, surgeries, treatments, recovery, etc
  • And a gift toward their wedding and honeymoon
 
Mariah and Clay are living out their faith, shining the love of Christ, and blessing many others through their testimony in such powerful ways. You can become a Prayer Warrior and follow their journey on their CaringBridge page.
 
As a community of family, friends, churches, schools, workplaces, and neighbors, we have a chance to encourage them as they face this unique chapter in their life's journey together.
 
Let's do something special as a community!! Let's put action to our words and show them they are dearly loved and that when we face difficult times in life, we do not walk alone.
 
"In sickness and in health..."
 
These are familiar words for many couples as they often are spoken on a person's wedding day.
However, no one knows these words better than Clay and Mariah. Their steps toward their wedding day and the changes they've needed to make represent a very real commitment to each other and trust in the Lord.
 
Both Mariah and Clay have received cancer diagnoses since their engagement.
 
For Mariah, a cyst was found on her ovary which turned out to be an Adult Granulosa Cell Tumor. Upon a thorough study, she has both Juvenile and Adult forms of this tumor. Her doctors have not seen both in one situation before. Just 8 days after the hard news of Mariah's cancer diagnosis, Clay's doctor called him about some concerning blood work after having pneumonia for two weeks and was rushed to the Emergency Room. Doctors discovered he had Acute Myeloid Leukemia and would need to remain hospitalized while they determined best options.
 
If you were to ask Clay or Mariah less than six months ago what their plans were, you would hear the excitement as Mariah signed a lease to rent a place in Chicago while she planned for her wedding, finished her degree, and would be doing a paid internship in the process. Clay was working daily at a job that he loved and was counting the days until he and Mariah were going to be married. They would have also shared their excitement about their new house purchase in September that they would look forward to making into their home in the months before their wedding.
 
Since the diagnoses were made, medical necessities and treatments became first priority. Mariah had surgery to remove the ovary that contained the cancer and will begin chemo soon to attack any potential remaining cancer cells. She made the difficult yet necessary decision to step away from her planned internship in Chicago and anticipated degree, leaving an apartment with lease in Chicago. Clay has begun chemotherapy and will be facing a stem-cell transplant as part of his fight against this aggressive form of Leukemia.
 
Not only did Clay and Mariah face conversations regarding rigorous cancer treatment plans for both, but they have also faced many other decisions most couples do not ever need to experience in a lifetime of marriage. They prayed through future family plans, how they could best walk through this challenging chapter together in the Lord, and what would be their best steps along the way.
 
They decided to move up their wedding date from summer to spring so that they would be together and Mariah could support Clay when he receives his upcoming stem-cell transplant. They determined it was best to change the wedding venue, guest list, and all other details to go forward with it as an intimate celebration due to their compromised immune systems.
 
The Director of Faith Formation at Holland Christian Schools, Bryant Russ, once taught both of them as high schoolers and told them back then, "If you two ever get married, call me as I would love to officiate the ceremony!" In God's plan, this became true. Bryant has invited Clay and Mariah to share their testimony in chapel at Holland Christian soon and they are eager to do so. Bryant has been walking with them in preparing for their special day and has been prayerfully guiding them in conversations surrounding their steps as they navigate. He recently shared with me that sometimes the most honest answer he could give to questions they have been asking is simply, "I wish I knew the answer, but I have not been in this situation and will just need to pray over you as you decide together."
 
We may not yet know what each step of their future holds, but we definitely know Who holds their future as they take each step. They also find peace in trusting God with the many unknowns to come.

As they walk this unique road and fight cancer while planning their wedding, let's thank God for the many ways He is at work in their story and join in the celebration through our support with this GoFundMe effort!
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 2 mos
  • Elijah Plaggemars 
    • $50 
    • 2 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 2 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $20 
    • 2 mos
  • richard johnson 
    • $100 
    • 3 mos
See all

Organizer and beneficiary

Tim Paauw 
Organizer
Grand Rapids, MI
Mariah Slenk 
Beneficiary