Warning: You may want to grab the tissues for this one. The photo of a dying woman in a wedding gown — her face obscured by an oxygen mask, her arms raised triumphantly — made the rounds on social media this past week. The woman is Heather Mosher, 31, who said “I do” in the hospital chapel just 18 hours before passing away from breast cancer.
“Nobody thought she would’ve made it that far. She proved them all wrong, and that’s what that photo says to me,” Heather’s husband, David Mosher, told television station WFSB in Hartford, Connecticut.
Heather, an elementary school psychologist, was diagnosed with breast cancer just over a year ago, on December 23, 2016, after finding a lump on her breast. That same day, David asked her to be his wife.
“She didn’t know I was going to propose that night, but I said to myself, she needs to know she’s not going to go down this road alone,” he told WFSB. “We went out on the carriage ride, and I proposed to her under a streetlight.”
But just five days later, David and Heather would receive more difficult news. Heather’s breast cancer was triple negative, making it more difficult to treat. As the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation explains: The most successful treatments for breast cancer target receptors for estrogen, progesterone and HER2. (These receptors are what fuel cancer growth.) But none of these receptors are found in women with triple negative breast cancer. The Foundation also points out that this type of breast cancer can be particularly aggressive, though it may respond to chemotherapy.
Over the next year, when David and Heather should have been planning their wedding, they instead were battling Heather’s cancer. “We would go to Dana Farber weekly, we were going to natural doctors,” David said. “Our life became consumed with cancer.”
By September 2017, the couple received the heartbreaking news that Heather’s cancer had spread. “We found out it was in her brain, and a couple months later, she was on life support with a breathing tube,” David said.
Although David and Heather knew their time together was limited, they still planned to exchange vows on December 30. But as Heather’s condition worsened, doctors urged them to move the date up. They ended up tying the knot on December 22, surrounded by loved ones in the St. Francis Hospital and Medical Center in Hartford, Connecticut.
“I just bawled through the whole ceremony, and, for me, it was such a sad occasion because I knew I wouldn’t see her again,” David admitted in an interview with People magazine. “When someone’s your soul mate, you’re never the same when you lose that part of yourself. There’s a part of me that died when she died.”
Heather’s funeral was held on December 30, what would have been her wedding day. In her obituary, her family requested that any donations in her memory be made to the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, an organization devoted to finding a cure for this difficult-to-treat type of cancer.
According to MD Anderson Cancer Center, triple negative breast cancer tends to affect premenopausal women more than older women. Because younger women don’t receive mammograms, at-home breast self-exams are particularly important for early detection. Need a refresher on how to do one? Here’s a step-by-step guide.
Our deepest condolences are with Heather’s friends and family during this heartbreaking time.