Last April, a woman and her fiancé announced that they would be getting married on March 24, 2018, despite finding out that her cancer had returned. Doctors advised her to move the date but she refused.
The brave young woman passed away last October and this year will be her first wedding anniversary.
Laurin Long, then-29, and Michael Bank, then-34, were a Columbia, South Carolina couple that was determined to get married no matter what. A few months before their wedding, they’d found out that Long’s battle with cancer wasn’t over.
Doctors advised them to move the wedding date because she might need to be on oxygen or not be able to walk down the aisle at all because of her illness. Long had fought her diagnosis and had been cancer-free for more than two years.
However, the couple wouldn’t change March 24 as it was a special date to both of them. It was the anniversary of the day Long and Banks met.
Changing the date felt like they were giving in to cancer and giving up, so they chose to remain defiant instead. Speaking to “Today” last April, Long said: “We decided that March 24, whatever condition I was in, we were going to do it,” and "We're not giving in."
Her future husband added, “She’s amazing. We’ve been focusing on loving each other and loving life.” The couple beat the odds last March and got married and Long was able to walk down the aisle and later she danced with her husband.
She managed all this due to a “very, very intense” treatment that she was taking as part of a clinical trial. The treatment had one side effect that was apparent during her wedding – it made her hair fall out.
The couple met on March 24, 2015, on the dating website PlentyOfFish.com. Long was going through her first battle with breast cancer which she was diagnosed with just before she turned 26.
At the time, she faced chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, and she had six weeks of radiation. To celebrate the end of her treatment, Long had a photo shoot that showed her with a bald head and pink boxing gloves.
Those were the same pictures she used for her online dating profile. Bank, who owns a karate school, couldn’t help but find himself drawn in.
“Just the fact that she was smiling amid everything going on and willing to put herself out there — I thought she was someone who had to have a love for life. I kept going back and looking at the photos over and over again.”
Bank sent her a message and they had a coffee date the next day where they realized they both loved traveling and adventure. The pair fell in love while tests revealed that Long was cancer-free.
However, they remained vigilant because Long had already lost her mother to pancreatic cancer when she was 17 and her father died of colon cancer when she was 22. Despite this, they still made the most of their lives by traveling together.
In June 2017, they got engaged in Niagara Falls. But tragedy struck in August 2017, when Long started having back pains that caused her to end up in the emergency room.
Scans and tests revealed that the breast cancer had come back and it was spreading to her bones and liver. She started chemotherapy again, but that December new scans revealed the cancer had also spread to her lungs.
Last year, she began taking part in a clinical trial where she received two chemotherapy drugs and two immunotherapy drugs. The results were positive as the tumors appeared to be shrinking according to Long’s Facebook page, Polka.dot.queen.
A new tumor appeared in July and the trial was considered unsuccessful. Last spring, she wanted to celebrate her 30th birthday at her dream destination in Italy as a married woman but her weak immune system meant she couldn’t fly.
She and her husband ended up celebrating her birthday at a beach house in Charleston, South Carolina. Long passed away on October 21, 2018.
Bank revealed, "I was able to carry her to bed and hold her until her last beautiful breath.” This weekend would’ve been their first wedding anniversary.
Just weeks before their wedding day, Bank had to shave off his fiancée’s hair. In a Facebook video post, on Long’s page her soon-to-be husband was seen switching on the hair clipper and slowly shaving her head.
She explained in the clip, “I woke up with bald spots this morning — so shaved head it is.”
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