Anna Swabey was given three months to live when she was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor in January 2015. The next month, she joined the dating app Tinder, and unexpectedly found love with Andy Bell.
“I knew halfway through my third date with Andy that I was going to break his heart. Not because I was going to cheat on him or dump him, but because I knew I was going to die,” Swabey had revealed in an essay for Marie Claire U.K.
The 25-year-old from Durham, England surpassed her doctors’ prognosis and had openly chronicled her cancer battle on her blog, Inside My Head. On December 8, 2015, she happily shared that her boyfriend of 10 months had proposed, later sharing that they would wed on September 17, 2016.
Sadly, Swabey died one day before walking down the aisle in front of 160 guests.
“Anna passed away peacefully in the early hours of this morning,” Swabey’s family announced on her blog’s Facebook page. “I cannot put into words the heartbreak we all feel, but amongst our sadness, we are so proud of her courage, her spirit and the determination she showed throughout her illness. If ever there was a person to show us how to live, it’s Anna Louise Swabey, our beautiful, brave girl.”
In the Marie Claire U.K. piece, published on the day of her death, Anna recalled some of her favorite moments in the relationship, including the proposal.
“As he got down on one knee, I cried and asked if he was sure – if we went ahead, he’d be a widower before he was 30,” she remembered. “I could die following a seizure, or he might have to take care of me until the bitter end. My personality could even change. But he said that he’d rather be married to me for a few years than not at all.”
Swabey concluded her essay with a confession: though she had come to peace with her diagnosis, she knew in her heart that their love would live on.
“I’ve come to terms with my death now, yet I struggle when I think about how it’s going to affect Andy. I worry about how he’ll cope when I start slipping away,” she wrote. “I hate the idea of him becoming my carer, and it terrifies me that I might not be ‘myself’ at the end.”
Anna continued,” That’s why we’re getting married in September. It’s not about a dress or a big party, it’s about making memories for Andy and making a commitment to each other. Terminal illness has taught me to seize opportunities, so I have to trust him when he says he wants to be with me forever. Even if we don’t know how long that is.”