On Sunday, Jan. 28, a 19-year-old cancer patient tied the knot with his high school girlfriend at the Big Red Barn in Plant City, Florida.
Dustin Synder of Valrico, Florida was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma, a rare type of cancer, in 2016, just a day before his 18th birthday. After an up and down battle with the disease, including a lung removal and a series of chemotherapy treatments, he was pronounced cancer-free.
However, he was rushed to the hospital several weeks ago because of abdominal pain. Doctors told him then that his cancer returned and it has spread throughout his body.
Dustin's Final Wish: Walk Down The Aisle With Sierra
With only a few weeks left to live, Synder's sister Brittany Hails shared that he intends to fill his final moments with "a lot of experiences" such as marrying Sierra Siverio.
His impromptu proposal did not come as a surprise to Siverio, who immediately answered yes. He treated her to dinner and popped the question with a donated ring.
The two first dated in middle school but later broke up. They reunited in their senior year and then worked together at a local Steak and Shake branch.
At first, Synder felt depressed because he was worried about money but thanks to the generosity of family, friends, and the online community, he was able to realize his dying wish.
Siverio has stayed by Synder's side throughout his entire struggle with cancer, and their urgent marriage will allow them enough time to experience being husband and wife.
"That means everything to me," says Siverio. "I'm going to be there for him no matter what and I'm really excited for this opportunity."
An online fundraising campaign launched by Hails raised a total of $38,787 of the $40,000 goal, with donations coming from 858 people within four days.
Synder currently stays at home, where he receives regular visits from hospice. He is able to get around because of a pain-medication pump connected to his heart.
What Is Synovial Sarcoma?
Synovial sarcoma affects three individuals in a million. This type of soft-tissue carcinoma can occur at any age but is common among teenagers and young adults.
Symptoms depend on the location of tumor growth, and complications could arise when the mass disrupts a bodily function. For instance, if the tumor is in the head or neck region, it could cause difficulties in swallowing or breathing.
Some tumors affect the nerves making them painful, but there are others that grow slowly in deep-seated areas of the body that may go unnoticed without regular imaging tests.
In Synder's case, removal is the only course of treatment, but doctors said they could not remove his cancerous tumor.