Zach Stroup, 26, and Madison Stroup, 24, went viral after the latter shared a TikTok video in August displaying their engagement images, which were shot before Zach knew that cancer he’d fought before had resurfaced.
They originally met in high school in 2015, but they were only friends at the time. Their love engagement began in 2018 when Zach wrote Madison a Facebook message inviting her out on a date; the two met at a Clay Walker performance and quickly became inseparable.
“We’ve been together every day since. “I believe the only time we were apart was when he was in the hospital,” Madison explained, alluding to Zach’s cancer diagnosis.
Zach was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (commonly known as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma or NHL) in November 2020. This type of cancer begins in the lymph nodes, particularly those in the neck, armpit, and groin, and affects lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell that plays an important role in immune system function.
If not detected early, it can spread to other organs outside of the lymphatic system, making treatment more difficult.
Zach told Insider that he went into remission in March 2021 after a couple of difficult rounds of treatment. He proposed to Madison on the beach in Florida two weeks later, in April.
“He told me that when he was younger, he never believed in soulmates — and then he met me,” Madison explained.
This recurrence, along with a pre-existing Crohn’s disease diagnosis in 2020, resulted in Zach losing 112 pounds (he was 240 pounds previously) and all but 10% movement on his right side.
“I couldn’t take a shower by myself.” “I needed help with everything,” Zach explained, adding that he also had a ruptured colon that required surgery.
Madison stated that she became a “24/7 caregiver” for Zach, which was “emotionally and physically” exhausting but also brought them closer together. Zach stated cancer had taken away so much from them, such as sleeping in the same bed, traveling, and even touching him was difficult due to nerve loss.
The pair refused to let disease derail their wedding plans.
They claimed to have organized their wedding in 48 hours with the help of the Choices Foundation, a cancer charity that financed their ceremony. A cake, fake flowers, decorations, and presents were donated by the charity. Madison stated that she had purchased a wedding gown immediately after being engaged, but owing to time constraints, she was unable to customize it.
Even though the dress was too big for her, she told Insider that it didn’t matter since the pair “didn’t want to miss out on the opportunity to marry each other.”
Madison stated that the formal ceremony took conducted at Presbyterian St. Luke’s Medical Center in April. She said that nurses came in on their day off to do her hair and cosmetics and that other hospital employees volunteered to be at their wedding party. While their parents were allowed to attend in person, other friends and family had to watch via FaceTime due to COVID-19 restrictions designed to protect chemotherapy patients.
“I’m overjoyed that I was able to marry the love of my life.” “There were times when I wasn’t sure if we were going to be able to do it or not,” Madison said, adding that their ceremony gave them the strength to continue. “I know he fought a lot for me, and that is a gift I can never repay.”
With Zach now in remission and gaining weight and strength by the day, the pair hopes to reaffirm their vows in front of those who were unable to attend the first time. They also want to go back to the beach for a long-overdue honeymoon, but for now, they’re just happy to be married.