Jim Koch surprised his wife of 26 years, Lora Koch, by “re-proposing” to her after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in February.
The loving husband says his wife’s wedding band had become too small, so he had it redesigned. And instead of just handing it back to her, he got down on one knee in their Panora, Iowa, home to remind his sweetheart of his never-ending love.
“I hadn’t planned on re-proposing, but I thought, ‘Well I have a ring, I should put it on her left ring finger and say a few words.’ ” Jim, 60, tells PEOPLE. “I wanted to let her know that the ‘In sickness and in health’ vows we made still stand. I’ll always love her.”
The couple’s 18-year-old daughter Christin Koch captured the emotional moment on her camera and posted the photos on Twitter, where hundreds of people have since shared the pictures.
“My parents have something a special,” Christin tells PEOPLE. “It’s touching to see that after 26 years. Dad is still showing mom that he loves her so much.”
Lora says she was so happy she couldn’t help but “sob” when her husband got down on one knee.
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“I was so happy and relieved, it was a reassurance that while cancer is going to change my life a lot, I know that one thing will always stay the same,” Lora, 54, tells PEOPLE. “His love for me is forever and our shared faith will last.”
Lora says she got a routine mammogram in January and that’s when doctors found a tumor. On February 11, she got the call that it was indeed breast cancer — but doctors assured her they caught it early and her prognosis looked good.
She had a bilateral mastectomy with reconstruction preparation on February 21 and was in recovery when Jim re-proposed on Tuesday.
“She wasn’t having a great day,” says Jim. “I thought this would cheer her up and remind her of my love and commitment.”
The couple’s oldest daughter, Anna, 22, was unable to be there for the impromptu ceremony as she is away at college — but Lora says support from both of her children has helped her get through her surgeries and recovery process.
“We have so much love and support from Anna and Christin and our entire Iowa community,” she says. “We are so blessed.
“I just hope my story can be a reminder that women should be getting mammograms when they can, because you never know.”
Lora, who will undergo reconstruction surgery in the coming months, says she’ll “never forget” how special Jim’s re-proposal made her feel.
“To have something so beautiful happen to me, well it was truly amazing,” say Lora. “I had a good cry of release and love and it was a pretty special day for me.
“I’m reminded me of the great love we have.”