26-year-old Zach Stroup has been in the hospital battling non-Hodkin lymphoma and Crohn’s disease for months, but that didn’t stop him from wanting to marry his sweetheart, 24-year-old Madison.
The couple, from Fort Collins, Colorado, met back in 2015 while they were in high school, and began dating a few years later.
Stroup owns an insurance agency and has always been very healthy. He was very into bodybuilding and never even had any reason to go to the doctor.
That is until February 2020 when Stroup started suffering from achy joints, fatigue, and gastrointestinal problems. He was then diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, but medication didn’t help and he only got worse.
He had constant fevers and began losing a lot of weight. One day he noticed he had a swollen lymph node the size of a golf ball on his neck, so he went to the hospital for a CT scan.
Doctors believed that Stroup had cancer, and tests confirmed that he had non-Hodkin lymphoma. Since the cancer had already spread from his lymph nodes to his lungs and liver, it was considered stage 4, which was shocking for Stroup to hear.
Stroup underwent chemotherapy treatments and went into remission in March 2021. A month later, he proposed to Madison.
The happy couple thought Stroup’s cancer was behind them, but within six months, his cancer was back.
An MRI showed that Stroup now had a tumor in his thoracic spine, which had to be removed or else he’d become paralyzed.
The surgery was a success, but he lost function of his right leg, which forced him into a wheelchair.
To make matters worse, Stroup’s colon ended up rupturing, and he underwent surgery to have half of it removed.
“At this point, knowing he had cancer that spread to his brain and then a perforation and chemotherapy on top of it, Zach was depleted,” Madison told TODAY. “He looked me in the eyes, crying, telling me that he didn’t want to fight anymore.”
Without knowing how much time they had left together, the couple decided to cancel the real wedding they had planned for the future and get married right then and there in the hospital in April 2022.
With their parents present, the couple got married in the hallway of the oncology floor at Presbyterian/St. Luke’s Medical Center in Denver.
The nurses and oncologists cheered them on as Madison walked down the hall to her husband-to-be, who was waiting in his wheelchair.
Although Stroup was weak, he still managed to say his vows to his new wife.
“I was pretty tapped out at that point,” Stroup told TODAY. “Our wedding definitely gave me a lot of positivity and hope. I had pretty much given up on myself, but I still wanted to fight for Maddy, and that’s what I did.”
After battling more health issues, Stroup was finally released from the hospital in July.
He has since been in remission and has been going to physical therapy to regain his strength.
The newlyweds have made TikTok videos to educate others about the symptoms of lymphoma, so that others know what to look for and can catch it as early as possible.
They hope their story spreads hope and will inspire others who are going through similar situations to keep fighting.
Hear more of their inspiring story in the video below:Whizzco