Zach and Madison Were Preparing for Their Wedding When He Was Diagnosed With Cancer. But the Couple Didn’t Let the Disease Ruin Their Plans
A wedding video of a couple from Fort Collins, USA, has gone viral on TikTok. Madison and Zach, like many other couples, had been dating since high school and, having reached the ages of 24 and 26, decided to get married. But one thing sets their story apart from millions of others — their wedding ceremony took place in a hospital. By then, the groom had been battling a terrible disease for a long time and was confined to a wheelchair.
Zach and Madison met in 2015 when they were in high school. They had been friends for a few years until one day he asked her out on a date. They went to a Clay Walker concert. Whether it was the magic of the country singer’s romantic ballads or something else, whatever the reason, from that night on, the couple was inseparable.
They stayed together after graduation too. Zach started his own insurance agency while also training as a bodybuilder, and his girlfriend became a hairdresser. They traveled a lot and posted photos of themselves on their social media pages, which were known to hardly anyone at the time.
In 2020, the couple was enjoying a vacation when, one morning, Zach Strop felt pain in his joints. His condition deteriorated rapidly, and eventually, doctors diagnosed him with Crohn’s disease. However, the prescribed treatment didn’t work. Over the next six months, he went from weighing 240 pounds to 160. Eventually, numerous tests revealed another disease — cancer.
Several courses of chemotherapy quickly brought Zach back to normal. As early as March 2021, he went into remission, and the disease seemed to be a thing of the past. At that happy time, Strop proposed to Madison. “He told me when he was younger, he never believed in soulmates — and then he met me,” she shared.
The disease returned
The couple began the wedding preparations. They didn’t even think that the disease could return, as the chances of lymphoma recurring are extremely low. But unfortunately, Zach’s case was among the rare ones. At the end of 2021, he was once again diagnosed with cancer. And this time, it was much more aggressive.
Madison became her fiancé’s carer. Without her help, he couldn’t take care of himself and couldn’t move around. She surrounded him with care and spent entire days in the hospital. She recalls how physically and mentally demanding it was, but what made it even more difficult was that she couldn’t touch her beloved — the nerve damage made any touch unbearable for Zach.
The surgeons were successful in operating on Zach and even partially restored the function of his legs. He was now able to move around with the help of a walker. There were many months of rehabilitation ahead. Madison became her fiancé’s hands and feet. She taught him to walk again. And every day she told him what a hero he was and how proud she was of him.
Wedding as salvation
Days turned into weeks, and weeks turned into months. The treatment dragged on for an agonizingly long time. And had it not been for all this, they would have long been Mr. and Mrs. Strop, enjoying their honeymoon. One day, a social worker visiting the couple at the hospital said to them: “You guys have lost out on so much. Don’t let cancer take away your wedding.”
Those words hit the mark so precisely that, in an instant, Zach and Madison decided to get married as soon as possible. Right now, right here — in the hospital. Within 48 hours, the bride and the medical staff arranged the wedding. A charity provided the cake, flowers, decorations, and gifts.
Madison had bought her wedding dress back when Zach proposed, and it had been waiting for its time all along. Since then, though, she had lost a lot of weight, and the outfit was practically hanging off her. But who cares? The important thing is that the wedding takes place and they finally become husband and wife. The bride’s hair and makeup were done by the nurses who came in on their day off for this special occasion.
The newlyweds were allowed to invite their parents to the ceremony at the hospital. Friends of the couple were there via video link. “I’m so happy that I got to marry the love of my life. There were a lot of times when I didn’t know if we were going to be able to do it or not,” Madison said, standing at the makeshift altar. “I know that he fought a lot for me and that is a gift that I can never repay.”
An inspiration for others
The video of this unusual wedding stunned millions of people on the Internet. On TikTok, it racked up tens of millions of views in a very short time. The sudden fame confused the newlyweds. They had no idea they would get so much attention. They appeared on TV and got invited to talk shows, including The Kelly Clarkson Show.
Every day from then on, Madison posted their daily routine on social media. Videos showed her husband learning to walk, working out, and sharing his experiences. And this content has proven to be so important for so many people. In the comments, followers who also faced the disease wrote that Zach’s story gave them hope.
“It’s just really cool though that we’re able to spread our message and help motivate others that are going through similar things that we did, and to help them keep pushing on,” says Zach, who is now a media personality. Millions of people are now following the Strop family online. And the couple has decided to make the most of it.
They want to raise awareness about cancer detection and treatment. And also to show by their own example that people facing similar situations should never, under any circumstance, be discouraged, no matter how scary it may be: “We wanted to inspire other people who are going through similar situations — whether it’s cancer or depression or other challenging things — to keep fighting because you never know what’s behind the next door.”
As for Zach Strop himself, he finally spent Thanksgiving 2022 at home with his beloved wife. The photos from that day show him standing confidently on his own feet, hugging Madison. The couple plans to have another wedding ceremony, this time with all their loved ones there with them, and also to go on a long-awaited honeymoon, which they deserve more than anyone.
Of course, what these lovers have had to go through is scary. But even in a story like this, thanks to their amazing ability to think positively, they were able to find a silver lining: “When you do your vows and you say ’in sickness and health,’ I feel like a lot of people don’t really realize what that means. And for us, we do know, and it’s definitely created such a strong foundation for ourselves.”
What would you wish to this couple?