A man and a woman finally had the chance to get married after falling in love with his high-school sweetheart years before. It seemed like everything was going their way when they found out his wife-to-be was battling an incurable disease.
Dave McLoughlin, 35, and his beloved partner, Michelle Crowe, 33, met each other when they were in their teens. Both locals of Tipperary, Ireland, they met in 2004 and have been by each other’s side ever since. They were inseparable over the years and had plans for a long, happy life together.
In 2016, McLoughlin proposed to his long-time girlfriend, and they started to plan their perfect wedding. The two happily started a family together, planning to tie the knot properly in the future. Things didn’t go exactly as they had hoped. McLoughlin’s mother, Noreen McLoughlin, passed away at 72.
After McLoughlin lost his mother, Crowe’s parents, John Crowe and Nora Crowe, also passed away at the age of 57. After all the postponements, their plans were entirely up-ended in 2022, when Crowe was suddenly diagnosed with an incurable disease mere months after they welcomed their youngest child.
The couple didn’t have many options left, and the disease was getting worse.
The happy couple had their second child, but shortly after, doctors approached Crowe with the news that she had breast cancer. The mother-of-two had discovered a large tumor in her left breast, and doctors eventually told her that the only way forward would be to undergo surgery.
Crowe’s youngest boy, Oisin McLoughlin, was born in January, and the diagnosis came in July when she found a worryingly large lump in her breast. The family was utterly devastated, but Crowe had faith. She immediately started chemotherapy, hoping to be rid of the tumor and move on with her life.
With Crowe hospital-bound, the chances of her and her beloved McLoughlin finally tying the knot seemed slim to none.
Sadly, the chemo didn’t do the trick. The next option was a mastectomy, which she believed would do the trick. She had the surgery on February 14, 2023, and thought that would be the end of the disease. McLoughlin recalled that the surgery went off without a hitch. Doctors even told them to start planning their summer holiday.
Only a couple of weeks after the mastectomy, Crowe started to experience severe stomach pains. With her cancer only recently left in the rear window, she and McLoughlin went in for another round with their doctor. Needless to say, they must have felt a good deal of apprehension.
The diagnosis wasn’t good. It turned out that the cancer had spread to Crowe’s liver, which was causing her stomach aches. The couple didn’t have many options left, and the disease was getting worse. McLoughlin recalled some of the days after the second diagnosis.
McLoughlin remembered seeing his wife look trailer and losing color. Despite this, she always tried to look on the bright side and remain hopeful. Nonetheless, they both knew what was happening, and they were acutely aware of everything they still wanted to do together.
Crowe’s health kept degrading, but McLoughlin noted that she tried to keep her spirits up. Eventually, the wife and mother-of-two had to be hospitalized after the cancer took so much out of her. Throughout the entire ordeal, Crowe and McLoughlin postponed their wedding even more.
Finally, a Wedding
With Crowe hospital-bound, the chances of her and her beloved McLoughlin finally tying the knot seemed slim to none. Luckily, one nurse stepped in, suggesting they make their dream come true despite Crowe’s failing health. McLoughlin recalled how a nurse approached him, asking whether he would consider marrying Crowe on the hospital grounds.
McLoughlin and Crowe took the suggestion and ran with it. They had dreamed of their wedding for so long, having been together since they were 15 and 16. For more than six years, they’ve kept pushing their wedding further and further due to unexpected circumstances. But they couldn’t postpone it any longer.
The hospital staff pitched in to make the wedding an extraordinary occasion, and the guests gathered in the hospital chapel with a number of Crowe and McLoughlin’s favorite songs playing. Although she was clearly fighting for her life, Crowe insisted on walking into her own wedding.
McLoughlin looked back at their wedding day, admiring her fortitude and saying she looked tremendous. The pair stood side-by-side in the chapel on March 20, finally saying their vows, even though they’d been together through so much already. Afterward, the staff of University Hospital Limerick spruced up their room.
The nurses had hung LED lights all over her hospital room. They also left the couple some non-alcoholic wine to celebrate, and although it wasn’t the night either McLoughlin or Crowe had envisioned for the last few years, they made the best of their wedding.
There were no more avenues open for treatment; the cancer had progressed too far. Crowe spent her last days in the hospital surrounded by loved ones and tragically passed away on Saturday, March 25. McLoughlin recalled he and other family members sat around her bed after she passed, sharing a bottle of gin. Her husband recalled:
“Her favorite thing to do was sit in the garden at the firepit and sit out and listen to songs into the early hours. I’ve not listened to a song since. She loved music. She loved our kids more than anything.”
Following her passing, the entire town came together for a wake, many dressed in pink or with shaved heads, showing solidarity against breast cancer. McLoughlin also spoke about his loss, saying he missed Crowe dearly. He had known her so long life seemed entirely different without her. He shared candidly:
“The pain gets worse and worse. I’m in the car and I hold my hand out for her and call out for a coffee. I’ll never look at anyone in the same way. She was one-in-a-million. I’m here for the boys.”
Crowe is survived by her husband and their two boys, Cillian and Oisin McLoughlin. The grieving dad is giving all his attention to his sons while keeping the memory of his wife alive. McLoughlin recalled, “She was the happiest person you have ever met.