Former Aiken resident Meredith Legg Stapleton will become a television star for a night on Friday – appearing on the TLC cable channel at 9 p.m.
Meredith remains an upbeat and determined young woman as she continues with ongoing cancer treatment. In 2009, she had just completed a stellar basketball career at USC Aiken when she was diagnosed with a rare ocular melanoma.
On Thursday, the four-year USC Aiken basketball standout will head to Tampa for a trial medication program. Then she’ll fly back Friday to her new home in Charlotte to watch television at 9 p.m. that night.
She will flip to not just any television show, but the TLC production of “Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta” – featuring Meredith herself as she searched and finally found a wedding dress. The video taping dates back 11 months ago, followed by additional taping at Meredith’s wedding to Christopher Stapleton on Oct. 20. Atlantic Broadband broadcasts TLC on channel 25.
Last May, Meredith was joined at Bridals by Lori in Atlanta with her mother, mother-in-law, sister and two bridesmaids.
“It was a lot of fun, a special day,” she said. “All of them cried, crying with happiness. We shot it for six hours, and they picked out some funny dresses.”
Meredith is returning to Aiken on April 24 as a guest of the Aiken Mid-Day Lions Club for its fashion show fundraiser for vision and hearing needs in the community. Not long after she began treatment four years ago, her left eye was removed.
The 30-minute show will have two separate segments interspersing back and forth. The other segment is listed online as a North vs. South battle, featuring a clash between a New York mom and a Southern mother-in-law.
The description for Meredith’s appearance is poignant: “A bride is anxious about upcoming cancer treatments but hopes to find strength in her dream dress.”
She and Christopher had dated in high school in Charlotte, and, after Meredith received a basketball scholarship at USCA, they decided to end the relationship. In March 2012, she was coming through Charlotte and called Christopher.
“We wanted to see each other, and that was it,” Meredith said. “It’s amazing. He’s a special guy, the best person for me. He’d rather spend this time with me and know we got good years together than not ever again.”
She faces surgery on May 3 and will continue with the clinical trial and chemotherapy through much of the summer. There are not a lot of studies on the drug protocol, so she is “just praying and hoping it will work in our favor.”
Throughout the long day for “Say Yes to the Dress,” Meredith laughed and laughed throughout video session. She found dresses – some of them just fine, and others not so much.
But oh, the irony. She calls her mom and sister and the others “my girly entourage,” because she is nothing of the sort. “They are way more into fashion styles and accessories,” Meredith said. “I would have been happy in sweatpants and a sweatshirt, and that’s just what my husband said. I picked the dress I knew my dad would like on me, that it was classic and elegant and not like a prom dress and too flashy.”
People tell her she’s strong, and she responds that Christopher gives her superpowers. Meredith just wants to be around her husband, their families and their dog Chiller, a Lab mix. There always are days that come up on the calendar for her treatments and consultations.
“I keep pictures of my dress to keep going forward and get that extra boost,” Meredith said. “We live every day as normally as possible, and I have a great life. This is a bump in the road, and it doesn’t define my journey and my path.”