Bride battling terminal breast cancer gets free wedding of her dreams

In the middle of her battle against terminal breast cancer, an Illinois woman was given the wedding of her dreams, thanks to the generosity of a nonprofit organization.

On Sunday, Anne Carmean, 41, of Chicago, walked down the aisle after an eight-year engagement to Jon Harnish, 44.

"It was perfect," Carmean told

Their wedding turned out to be the 100th granted by Wish Upon a Wedding, a charity that pays for nuptials to couples battling illnesses.

"They pulled off this wonderful, beautiful day," she said. "They granted me everything."

Even though Carmean she originally wanted a small wedding with a justice of the peace, she ended up inviting 50 people. She even had her father walk her down the aisle.

"There were no problems, except for my little son here, who wouldn't go down the aisle," she laughed. "He looked out there, and he ran away."

Carmean told she and Harnish met online in 2008, shortly after she had a mastectomy when doctors found a lump in her breast. At the time, she was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer.

By Christmas of the same year, they were engaged.

"I didn't think it was important to get married," she said. "It was kind of like a piece of paper. I didn't really care."

Their lives together continued, and Harnish helped raise Carmean's special-needs son, who is 15 and requires round-the-clock care. She also has a 9-year-old boy and a son, 5, fathered by her new husband.

In 2014, during a routine examination, she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, and it had spread to her lungs.

"You're in disbelief," she said. "I was very mad. It's not fair. [My kids] need a mother."

According to the Fred Hutch Cancer Research Center, Stage 4 breast cancer, or metastatic breast cancer, is incurable, and takes 40,000 lives annually. They estimate 155,000 people in the United States are currently living with it.

"When I asked my doctor the question, you know, 'How long do I have?' He said, 'You will be here in two years,'" she said. "All right. I'm here. I'm at two years now."

Earlier this year, her best friend died of breast cancer.

"That's when it hit home. You're kind of in denial. You think you're invincible, and you're not," she said. "You think you're invincible, even though doctors tell you, 'You have two months to live.'"

When Harnish again suggested marriage, this time Carmean simply replied, "OK."

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