37-Year-Old Iowa Woman Marries Boyfriend Day Before She Dies Of Cancer

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

An Iowa mother-of-three married her long-time boyfriend Saturday, the day before she died of ovarian cancer.

Mindi Jo Flanagan, 37, beat her cancer into remission five times before her death on Sunday.

"We were still kind of hoping for a miracle," her sister Shellie Bridges told the Des Moines Register. "There had been the catalyst of getting ready for the wedding. I think she was at peace, ready to let go. That's what she did. It's tough for those remaining but she's where she needs to be."

Flanagan was wheeled down the aisle Saturday at the small ceremony attended by family and close friends. She managed to stand to say her vows to Joe Bakalar.

In 2008, Flanagan was diagnosed with breast cancer and underwent a double mastectomy. In 2009, she was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer.

Five times her cancer was successfully treated through surgery, chemotherapy and an experimental study. When it returned the sixth time at the end of April, a hospice care worker told her she had six to 12 weeks to live.

Her boyfriend of seven years proposed over Easter weekend.

She and Bakalar have a 6-year-old daughter. Flanagan has 9-year-old twin daughters from a previous marriage.

"It's bittersweet,” Bridges said. “She was so happy. She got to dance with Dad and her husband. It was beautiful. We've had so many miracles with her. But it wasn't meant to be.”

Flanagan left behind birthday cards for her daughters every year until they turn 18. She also made a video for loved ones.

"She was a beautiful spirit, a beautiful human being," Bridges said. "Through the entire process of this evil, horrible disease she had dignity and grace. She never once complained and always had a smile on her face. She continued to be a bright light to everyone around her."

Sources: Des Moines Register, New York Daily News