The then-26-year-old Zach was reportedly engaged to marry his high school sweetheart, Madison. But, one day, everything turned upside down for this young couple when doctors said he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his liver and lungs.
The young man was devastated when he came to know about the diagnosis because he was a health-conscious person. The couple got engaged when Zach went into remission but later that year, doctors found a tumor on his spinal cord.
He went through five rounds of chemo and in March, an MRI showed that the treatment wasn’t working anymore. By the time the cancer had spread to his brain.
Madison said: “I felt like my worst nightmare was coming true. All of the worst thoughts were going through my head, thinking, how am I going to do this life without him? But I knew he was a fighter.”
So Madison threw all her cares on God and trusted Him during this terrible situation in their lives. The trouble was that the couple had already postponed their wedding twice due to Zach’s illness and desperately wanted to be married because they loved each other so much.
But God knew better and one day the social workers gave them the idea of getting married in the hospital. Their ceremony was fixed two days later and with the help of the staff, the cake, decorations, and bouquet for the bride were all arranged.
Madison’s parents collected the bride and groom’s wedding outfits, and Madison’s dad, Chris, helped the groom get ready in the hospital. Madison got ready in the bone marrow transplant ward, which was one floor beneath the oncology ward where her to-be husband was getting ready.
She recalls one of the nurses doing her hair and makeup on her off day and how a bunch of safety pins was used to pin her dress as it wasn’t given for fitting. Before the wedding, Madison went up to the fourth floor where her dad was standing and crying overwhelmed by the whole situation, but then they proceeded along the hospital hallway, and saw all the patients come out of their rooms to see the wedding, the nurses and doctors were all dressed up taking clips of them getting married.
Zach was in his wheelchair hooked up to his chemo treatment and a pain pump, but Madison remembers the smile on his face. “I knew he was fighting so hard to just be there,” she said. “Being able to get married to him that day was the best day of my life. Even though it wasn’t the wedding we initially thought, it couldn’t have been any better.”
Madison was worried that Zach might have a problem with his central nervous system and his oncologist thought it was peripheral neuropathy from his chemotherapy treatment. The tumor was found in Zach’s spinal cord which needed to be operated on the spot or it could lead to him being paralyzed forever. His successful surgery was a “true miracle,” according to a colorectal surgeon and it left him with a feeding tube and ileostomy bag.
Soon the biggest victory for them happened when he was approved for a bone marrow transplant it was a success, and that led to him being declared cancer-free. Madison never stopped praying for her husband night after night and received answers to her prayers when doctors said the lesion in Zach’s brain was “completely gone,” and the lesion in his spinal cord was now just residual scar tissue.
“It was hard for me to comprehend that chemotherapy and hospital visits were over. We finally were at the light at the end of the tunnel; it was the most amazing thing,” Madison said.
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