On the same cruise she became engaged, Mikaila also began the fight of her life.

When Mikaila met Harley, she was just 18 years old.

He had just begun working as a mechanic with her brother, and within a month of meeting, they were dating.

“He was so kind and hard working and a bit of a sweet talker,” the 22-year-old tells Mamamia over the phone from her Wollongong home.

“We are both very free spirited and I would like to believe we are very kind people. We’re just a really happy couple.”

A really happy couple who, over the course of the last four years, have held on tight to a relationship punctuated by the kinds of hurdles most wouldn’t see in a lifetime.

Three months into their relationship, Mikaila fell pregnant. She was only just 18.

“We were both in a bit of a shock. It was definitely a surprise. But after we decided to have the baby, it was the best thing to ever happen to us. She is our life.”

Image: Beth Fernley Photography.

Baby Indie entered the world into the arms of two parents who loved her intensely. So much so, in fact, only two years later, they had another baby, Reef.

"Being such a young mum can be challenging, but it's all good, because I feel like I have the energy to do it. I do love being a young mum. I sometimes think that even if I didn't fall pregnant as young as I did, I would have eventually had my kids quite young. I think I was just born to be a mum."

In February last year, on Valentine's Day, while on a cruise with their kids, Harley proposed after three years together.

"It was very sweet, but I didn't make it easy. I was a bit difficult. Harley was trying to get me to go to all these places on the boat and I was being so difficult. I kept saying, 'but I like it here'. Eventually he got me to the helipad on the boat just as the sun was setting and we were going through the heads.

"My difficulty probably worked out well. It wouldn't have been sunset if I hadn't delayed him!"

With two kids and a new engagement, Harley and Mikaila had plans. Big plans, big dreams.

"I was diagnosed a week later," she recalls.

Six months before she was proposed to on the boat as the sun set, Mikaila noticed a lump on her right buttock.


"When I first saw it, I was quite worried, because it was very instant. I was laying in bed with my best friend, and I kind of jumped. I felt my right butt cheek and I said to her, I've got a weird lump and I've literally just felt it pop up. I went to hospital, but at the stage, it was big, but not big enough to know what's going on.

Image: Beth Fernley Photography.

"Six months later, when I was on the cruise, I bent over to pick something up and Harley said the lump had grown a lot bigger. At that stage, I couldn't sit very well on it so I went to hospital the day after I got home."


A hospital visit and an ultrasound later, Mikaila was called back to the doctors that afternoon.

"They said to me straight away, this is definitely a tumour, but we think it's a sarcoma but we need to do a biopsy to be sure. I instantly knew what it was. My good friend actually passed away from a sarcoma, so I did know what it was. I felt very scared."

The biopsy concluded their greatest fears were their new reality. Mikaila was diagnosed with Alveolar Soft Part Sarcoma, the rarest type. It was stage four.

Only 20 people every year are diagnosed, and it's difficult to treat, she says, because it doesn't respond well to traditional chemotherapy.

"When Harley and I got engaged, we didn't think we would get married for a few more years. As soon as I got diagnosed and we realised how bad it was, we thought, let's get married as soon as we can."

Steadfast in her desire to make sure she married her love, Mikaila visited her local bridal shop, where the owner Tanya recommended her neighbour, Beth, to photograph her wedding.

Beth visited Mikaila's house, and within moments of leaving, had posted about the young couple's story on Facebook, calling for anyone who wanted to help plan the wedding.

"We didn't think it would go that viral. My parents and Harley's parents did a lot too, but so many people jumped in. The community really did come together. We're very lucky."

Just a fortnight ago, they married.

"I remember the day so well. When I turned the corner and began to walked down the aisle he was crying, which was beautiful. It was just perfect. The day was perfect, it was sunny and hot and nice, then right at the end it started pouring down with rain and everyone went undercover, but me and Harley were ouT in the rain dancing."

Image: Beth Fernley Photography.

Though their wedding was perfect and Indie and Reef are happy, well-loved kids, Mikaila says she thinks three-year-old Indie is starting to understand the depths of her mother's battle.

"Even though she is very young, she is very smart, she picks up on things quickly. She has developed a bit of a fear around sickness, because when I started treatment, it was hard on my body so I got quite sick and spent a lot of time in hospital. So now, even if my partner gets a cold or something, she would instantly say, 'you have to go to hospital', because that's what I always have to do."


Now, Mikaila, Harley and their two kids are hoping to go on a honeymoon together, after photographer Beth decided to rally the community once again, organising a GoFundMe page to fundraise for the young, defiant, loving couple.

"It was really nice of her, I had no clue she was going to do that.

"I do just want to make memories, that's what life is about and I do have a few places on my bucket list. It's a little bit hard, being sick, on where I can go. My biggest dream is taking the kids to Disney Land, but if I got sick over there, it would be incredibly expensive."

Though the 22-year-old is under no illusion of battle she's facing with fierce resolve, she has a beautiful humility about her. Other people, she says, have battles too.

"I have quite a few friends around me struggling with mental health and they always say to me, we have nothing to worry about, because look at you. But I totally disagree. Everyone has their own battle. It doesn't matter what it is.

"Make memories, ask for help when you need it.

"And to all the mothers out there, hug your kids extra tight."

You can follow more of Mikaila's journey on her Facebook page. To donate to Mikaila's GoFundMe, click here. And to visit Beth Fernley's wedding photography, click here.