“Move up your wedding date,” doctors advised Laurin Bank.
All photos courtesy Tiffany Ellis Photography.
It was September 2017, and her oncologists were worried that the 29-year-old cancer patient might need a wheelchair to make it down the aisle for her planned March 24 ceremony.
But the bride-to-be was adamant. “No,” she said.
Bank told Yahoo Canada that it was important for her and her now-husband Michael to keep their original wedding date, as it was their three-year anniversary from the day they first met.
“We wanted to have the wedding on our terms and not let cancer decide,” Bank adds.
In September 2014, shortly before her 26th birthday, Bank was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer. She went through six weeks of radiation, chemo treatments and a double mastectomy before being declared cancer-free in the spring of 2015. To celebrate the end of her chemo treatments, Bank took photos that showed her with a bald head and pink boxing gloves – photos that she included in her profile on the dating site Plenty of Fish.
Michael, her-soon-to be husband, discovered her profile, and was instantly captivated. They began talking on March 24, 2015.
“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,” the 34-year-old told TODAY. “I kept going back and looking at the photos over and over again.”
He asked Bank out for coffee and the couple knew they had something special. They both longed for adventure and they loved to travel – and with Bank declared cancer-free in April 2015, they decided to make every single day count. The traveled across America, vacationed in the Bahamas and Cancun – Bank even participated in a triathlon.
In June 2017 the couple got engaged. They set their special date for March 24, 2018 – the anniversary of the date they first met.
“He got down on knee and asked if we can keep this party going? And I said, ‘Yes!'” Laurin said.
But two months after their engagement, Bank started experiencing terrible back pain. Tests revealed that the cancer had returned – this time as stage 4. It had spread to her bones, lungs and liver. “We were terrified,” Bank admitted.
That’s when her doctor encouraged her to move her wedding date up – she was worried that Bank might even need oxygen for her special day as her lungs weren’t strong.
“I looked at my oncologist and said, ‘quality over quantity. That’s my goal,” she told PEOPLE. “And if there’s treatment, I want to do it.’ I was ready to fight. I fought once and I knew I could fight again. Being stage four is scary but I’m young, so I have a lot of fight in me.”
Michael, who Bank describes as a fountain of strength, looked at his fiancée and told her not to worry – that it was “going to be OK.” And the couple was determined it would be OK.
This year, Bank started an intense clinical trial involving two chemotherapy drugs and two immunotherapy drugs – it caused her hair to fall out and a host of other side effects, but on March 24, she defied the odds and walked down the aisle to marry the love of her life.
“I danced until the last song of the night,” she said. “The wedding day was the best day ever. I was so shocked that I made it! I felt good and I felt strong.”
The clinical trial is working – Bank notes that her blood levels are at a normal range and both tumors that doctors have been tracking went down
“The rest of the metastatic spots are too small to measure and they are stable!”
Next up is more travel and adventure.
“We are looking forward to taking our dream honeymoon in Italy in September! “ Bank told Yahoo Canada. “We also are excited to begin this chapter in our lives, and look to help, and to give back to those who are going through similar issues as us.”