Rodney Conradi and Lynse Rainford met in 2010 at the Ronald McDonald House in Seattle while they were both being treated for cancer. Rodney, 19, had Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of cancer that causes bone tumors. Lynse, 20, had leukemia, the cancer of blood cells. “He acted, like, goofy all the time,” said Lynsie of Rodney. “He didn’t really care what other people thought at all. That’s what I liked the most probably. He just didn’t care what other people thought.”
Rodney and Lynse began dating in 2011. Lynse had finished her chemo and was in remission. Rodney appeared to be turning a corner. “We talked about moving in together and just having a normal life finally,” said Lynsie. “Pretty much through our whole relationship one of us has been sick or we’ve both been sick. We never really had a normal relationship.”
Rodney’s cancer returned in late 2011, more severe than ever. He was admitted to the Yakima Valley Hospital for aggressive treatment. It was becoming evident, however, that Rodney didn’t have much time. On Valentine’s Day of 2012, despite being in agony and with the bones in his legs devoured by cancer, Rodney got down on one knee and proposed. “He was really, really sick, and he was puking,” said Lynsie. “That’s what made it special; even though he was really sick, he still wanted to do it right.”
Rodney’s condition continued to deteriorate. Time was of the essence. Two days after Rodney proposed to Lynsie, on February 16th, 2012, they were married in the basement of the Yakima Valley Memorial Hospital. Rodney, barely able to stand, walked down the makeshift aisle with his I.V. bag. “He had a goal: ‘I’m going to marry that girl before I die,” said Rodney’s father, Kirk Conradi. “She’s the love of my life. She’s my soul mate.’”
Later that night, Rodney’s pain became unbearable. Doctors sedated him to help him cope. Although he was mostly unconscious in the days and weeks that followed, he had moments of lucidity in which he would recall his improbable wedding. “He kept saying, ‘That’s the best day of my life,’” said Kirk Conradi.
On March 11th, 2012, Rodney Conradi died. He was 21-years-old. He was surrounded by his family and his wife whom he had married less than a month before, Lynsie (pictured above with Rodney shortly before he lost his battle). “It was what they wanted and nothing was going to stop them, no matter how painful it was,” said Emily Conradi, Rodney’s sister. “The power of love was enough to get through.”
“It was the best wedding I could ask for,” Lynsie said. “Magical, kind of.”
Pat Muir,Yakima Herald-Republic / AP