Young Bride Dies of Cancer 3 Days After 'Dream' Wedding to Childhood Sweetheart in Hospital
Nina Marino, 19, married her boyfriend and longtime friend Joey Williams, 21, in her room in the ICU.
A young bride got the wedding of her dreams, just days before her death.
Nina Marino, 19, died of cancer three days after exchanging vows with husband Joey Williams, 21, in a "dream" wedding.
Williams explained they met as kids while attending a summer camp for children with serious medical conditions. Marino had VACTRL syndrome while Williams suffered from congenital heart defects and chronic pain.
They kept in touch after realizing they lived only minutes away from one another, and were inseparable.
“We basically grew up like brother and sister and as we got older, we were best friends,” Williams said. “We hung out all the time.”
It was during a trip to Disneyland over the summer of 2017 when they realized they had feelings for each other, and decided to give a romantic relationship a shot.
“She was diagnosed with cancer a month before we started dating,” Williams recalled. “It was called an undifferentiated sarcoma, which means it’s a sarcoma but we don’t know what kind.”
Marino spent the rest of the summer receiving chemotherapy treatments, and undergoing surgery to have the tumor on the back of her skull removed.
“We would always just try and find like something fun to do or some adventure to go on if we were both feeling up to it,” Williams said. “We never sat at home and were sad about everything. We were always doing something and she was always so happy.”
The pair got engaged last month. Williams explained that Marino had originally wanted to propose to him at Disneyland, but before they could embark on their trip, Marino fell ill and ended up in the hospital with a ventilator.
“I walked into the ICU room and she was in bed wearing the Mickey Mouse ears,” Williams explained. “They were made of wood, and they were laser engraved, ‘Will you marry me?’ I said yes, of course.”
Marino’s condition took a turn for the worse when they found tumors in her lung on Sept. 3. She was born with only one lung, which made a lung transplant impossible.
They had already been planning their wedding for later this month, to be held at the chapel of the children’s hospital Marino was in, but doctors told them they should plan to be married that same day.
Their family immediately contacted the volunteer group planning their wedding, and Marino and Williams exchanged vows from her hospital bed in the ICU just hours later.
“They got her three wedding dresses so she could pick out her dress. They decorated the entire room with photos, they built an arch over her hospital bed for us to get married under,” Williams said. “It was beautiful. We both loved it.”
Marino died just three days later.
Williams said he’s now learning to live his life without his best friend and bride.
"It’s been hard. She’s been in my life since I was 8," Williams said. "I was in the ER two days ago because I got really sick, and she wasn’t there."
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