23-Year-Old Florida Woman with Leukemia Marries at Hospital

A 23-year-old Florida woman who is battling leukemia married her boyfriend in a hospital conference room, left hospice and is now switching to more aggressive treatments.

Melanie Aybar has been battling leukemia for two years. She had a blood transfusion at the hospital the night before her wedding last month in hopes it would give her energy for her nuptials the next day. Aybar had planned to go back to hospice after the wedding, but changed her mind after the Dec. 19 wedding.

The Orlando Sentinel reports she's been taking antibiotics again and wants to participate in another clinical trial. Her sister is a match for a potential bone-marrow transplant but doctors want to wait until she gets stronger to perform the surgery. A GoFundMe page has raised more than $12,000 toward $50,000 needed for the procedure.

``Melanie is a fighter she's always been a fighter,'' physician-assistance Kelly Landon said. ``She's always been one of the most bubbly and enthusiastic patients that I've ever had.''

Aybar has been dating her new husband, 24-year-old Michael Sanchez, since high school. They were married Dec. 19, four days after he proposed. Hospital staff volunteered to help plan the wedding, finding a cake and getting a florist to donate flowers.

``People were incredible,'' said Laurie Armendariz, a manager at UF Health Cancer Center. ``We had team members jump to come in on their day off and they didn't care about being paid. They just wanted to be a part of it and help.''

Aybar, who wore a strapless gown, walked down the aisle with her dad without a wheelchair or the pain pump. Guests went outside after the ceremony and released white balloons in the air.

``When you love someone deeply,'' Sanchez said, ``you've got to step out of your comfort zone and what you believe should be your future . love can carry and do magic and marvelous things.''

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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