When Constance Campbell went out on a blind date that ended with the couple searching for her ring that fell during a walk on the beach, she never imagined almost 16 years later to the date the couple would exchange wedding rings or that they’d be saying their vows inside a hospital room at Moffitt Cancer Center.
Jack Campbell has stage 4 terminal lung cancer. In May 2017, doctors sent him to Hospice and said he had about two months left to live. His sister made an appointment for him at Moffitt Cancer Center and says Moffitt gave him hope. He underwent chemotherapy, radiation, immunotherapy and was even on a clinical trial, which gave him time and hope, but all have stopped working.
Campbell’s last wish was to marry the woman who’s been by his side since that blind date in 2001. Though it wouldn’t be a traditional wedding given the circumstances, Campbell’s sister, Diane Benedict, took on the role of wedding planner and set about buying a cake, flowers, rings and decorations to make his hospital room look like a little chapel. She even asked a Moffitt chaplain to officiate.
There wasn’t a dry eye in the room as the pair exchanged rings and vows as friends, family and dozens of doctors and nurses watched them join together in holy matrimony.
The bride was thrilled that physicians took the time to watch the wedding. “It was very comforting to know, all of the doctors, the nurses, they feel like family. They are like family. They’re so nice and so generous and they are very caring people and that’s why I like it here because they take such good care of him and they treat you like family,” Constance Campbell says.
“Sometimes we think about the disease and we forget that we are not really treating the disease, we are treating the individual and for us to have any opportunities where we actually see outside of their disease process," says Dr. Nam Tran, who attended the ceremony. "To see that they still maintain a relationship with his fiancée, his family and to share in the happiness and joys that they’ve got. I think it’s a privilege to share in that.”
The Campbells don’t know how much time they’ll have together as husband and wife, but this couple knows the true meaning of the vow, “in sickness and in health”.
Benedict says, “We’re very aware that this is terminal and we know where the end is going to be, but it is with such dignity, it is with such kindness. I feel if my brother dies tonight, that everyone has given him every possible chance to survive.”
Campbell told his doctor yesterday, “If you give me a little more time, I’ll be happy because I’ll have time with my beautiful wife and if you don’t, I’ll be happy because I’ll be in heaven.’”