‘God Was On My Side’: Young Man Battling Stage 4 Cancer Gets Married In Hospital, Receives A Miracle Months Later

A Christian couple who got married in the hospital while the groom was being treated for cancer are sharing their story of how God showed up for them and healed him completely.

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26-year-old Zach Stroup was engaged to marry his high school sweetheart, Madison Stroup, 24. But in 2020, everything turned upside down for this young couple from Fort Collins, Colorado when doctors said he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in his liver and lungs.

Zach was “super angry” when he came to know about the diagnosis because he was a health-conscious person. Madison says she relied heavily on faith in God and knew He wouldn’t give them anything they’d be unable to handle. She told Zach, ‘God gives his biggest warriors the hardest battles.’ They have relied on their faith in God since the beginning of Zach’s cancer battle.

 

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The couple got engaged in March 2021 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 2022, 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 on April 15, 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.

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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.”

Then Zach’s treatments continued after an initial bone marrow biopsy, PET scan, and lumbar puncture. He went through six rounds of intense chemotherapy and was not doing well, he dropped from 240 pounds to 165 pounds. In September 2021, he had a tingling in his feet that went up to the back of his legs.

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. In November 2021, Zach woke up feeling numb and walked into an MRI appointment, and was found to be completely paralyzed by the time the scan was over. He was transferred into the care of blood cancer specialists at Presbyterian St. Luke’s in Denver.

Immediately, two doctors, a PA, and five nurses started doing lumbar punctures, bone marrow biopsies, PICC (Peripherally Inserted Central Catheter) line placements, and blood work on him, and a 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.

The husband and wife’s prayers were being answered by God and Zach’s surgery was successful, and now he was focused on the mobility on the right side of his body. He gradually started to do daily activities like writing, brushing his teeth, using the washroom, and more, in the process he suffered infections, sepsis, and a punctured lung.

Soon he faced another blow to his health when he had to have emergency surgery for his perforated colon. “His colon had a hole in it and was leaking into his body,” Madison explained. “From what we were told, bowel perforations have about a 40 percent mortality rate.

“I remember asking the nurse, ‘Is Zach going to die tonight?’ She grabbed me and told me, ‘We are going to do everything we possibly can to prevent that from happening … you need to not give up on your husband because he’s not going to give up on you.’ I took that seriously.”

Zach’s 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 on Aug. 16.

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.

Zach said: “I remember back in February and March, when I was doing physical therapy every day, that was definitely the hardest time because I was the weakest then, the most immobile. I’d always pray like really late at night. And whenever I prayed, I always lost all my anxiety. I almost felt calm and I was actually able to go to sleep.”

“That’s my testimony; it guides me to believe that God is real.”

 

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Zach and Madison faced many obstacles down the road during those difficult five months of their lives but they knew that God was on their side. Zach said, “When the doctor came in and told us that I was cancer-free, I felt like we finally received something positive. I knew I still had a lot to go because I’m still in the process of recovering and trying to walk again, but that was one huge step to becoming normal again.”

We are told in the Bible that husbands and wives should support one another in all circumstances and this is exactly what Madison did for her husband Zach, her unconditional love and faith in God has seen them through. “I knew that once I get through all this, we live our lives happy, just everything that we ever wanted,” he said. “It was hard, but I kept looking forward to the end goal.”

Let us keep praying for this beautiful couple who are testifying for the glory of God. We may not be in a battle with cancer, but we must believe that whatever we are trusting God for, He will do it for us.

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