Corey Cunningham had a seizure last October while he was working in a refinery in St. Croix, Virgin Islands and evacuated to a hospital in Puerto Rico. He would later learn that his prognosis was grim – there was no cure for his stage 4 glioblastoma, and with treatment, his life expectancy would be around 15 months. But Cunningham is determined to live his life to its fullest during the time he has left, and that includes marrying his longtime girlfriend Tyyisha Evans before he enters hospice care.
“It was heartbreaking,” Evans told PEOPLE of the diagnosis. “We cried together. I said, ‘You have to fight. I need you to fight.’ And he did.”
Cunningham had radiation, chemotherapy and took medication for the condition
but in January, MRIs showed that the treatment wasn’t working.
When a palliative care physician asked Cunningham who he wanted as his medical power of attorney, Cunningham told the physician that he had bought a diamond ring — and wanted to marry Evans. The doctor called Evans and popped the question right then.
“I was so surprised,” says Evans. “I just didn’t expect him to have that on his mind. I thought this was going to be the last thing he would think about.”
She reportedly said yes. “Total strangers were in tears,” said Evans. “I fell in love with his strength. He’s definitely a man’s man.”
Evans herself was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2018, which landed another obstacle to marriage. A month after she was declared cancer free, Cunningham received his cancer diagnosis.
Once Evans accepted his proposal, Cunningham’s nurses mobilized into wedding planners. “It was like Make-a-Wish, only with a wedding,” she said.
“It gave us an opportunity to express the love we have for Mr. Corey,” says nurse manager Eva Boone. “He was a wonderful patient.”
“It was overwhelming. Extremely overwhelming,” Evans says. “I cried before I even got in the door of the chapel.”