When Mark Zvonek watched his bride walk down the aisle Monday night on to the sand of Mission Bay, he couldn’t stop his eyes from watering up.
It was mostly joy rising to the top of the ever-present fear. Mark, a Carlsbad native, says even here at his wedding – the happiest day of his life – there is an element of deep sadness.
Like many grooms, Mark is slightly anxious about the word “forever,” but for an entirely different reason. He knows his new wife isn’t expected to live very long.
Ana Zvonek has Stage 4 colon cancer, which according to statistics puts her five-year survival rate from the time of diagnosis at less than 10 percent. She was diagnosed in 2012.
“We know that things aren’t perfect, and we know we have a struggle and a battle ahead of us," Ana said.
She and Mark are starting “forever” on a steep uphill climb.
Mark knew his marriage would be through more sickness than health when he asked Ana for her hand in marriage. What he didn’t know was how they’d pull off a dream wedding despite the mounting medical costs.
Finding time to plan it was another issue entirely because Ana was in and out of chemotherapy and in no condition to focus on fine details of a wedding.
That’s where a nonprofit founded in 2010 entered the picture. Wish Upon A Wedding is a 501 (c) (3) nonprofit organization providing weddings for couples facing terminal illness and serious, life-altering circumstances.
They partner with folks in the wedding industry who donate their time and resources to a couple in need of a happy memory.
Mark and Ana’s wedding and reception was held at the Bahia Resort Hotel in Mission Bay. Pictures, flowers, musicians, invitations and everything else that goes into a wedding was donated.
The Zvoneks don’t know how long their marriage will last, so they’re focusing on what is here and now. “I’d rather have a minute of happiness than a lifetime without you," Anna told her husband.
They’re fighting the fear of death with the power of love, and thanks to their wedding planning friends at Wish Upon a Wedding, forever isn’t such a scary word.