Love story turns tragic as cancer patient dies
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Their love story captivated the area, as a cancer patient proposed to his girlfriend in the hospital on the day he received what they hoped would be a life-saving bone marrow transplant.
Six months later, triumph has turned to tragedy for Dale Monteith. "He knew it was in him," said his fiance Ashley Jewell, "but he didn't let the cancer become him."
The story of the patient in room 604 had all the makings of a fairytale as he asked Jewell to marry him back in May. "Thanks for always having my back," he said then. "Will you marry me?"
The answer was "Yes," and a beautiful romance began that faced tragedy and triumphed. Back then Jewell said, "It's been so hard, because this day finally came and a lot of people don't get this."
But Dale Monteith and Ashley Jewell fell just short of that fairy tale ending. Jewell told WDRB's Gilbert Corsey, "He just closed his eyes and I knew what he was saying. He told me that he was tired, and he was ready. I said, don't apologize. You could have gave up a long time ago but you fought and you fought and you fought. It's just your body is tired, and you could tell."
Monteith suffered for years with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia. He achieved remission with an experimental drug therapy, and in May proposed to his girlfriend on the same day as the bone marrow transplant that was supposed to ignite his stem cells into lasting health.
Nurse Milly Flowers would always say, "Dale, you know you're special, you know you're my baby. He was the nurses' favorite patient, as nurse's assistant Katie Dawson explains: "Dale just sort of drew you in and you wanted to talk to him and be around him."
They loved him so much they helped pay for the ring that Ashley wears and turned their break room into the site of the couple's bliss. Jewell says, "It felt like we were in paradise and we were going to have our lives together until we were 80...We got to the date. It was going to be August 22nd 2015."
Dale didn't reach paradise. Jewell says, "Infections in his lungs had built up and built up and they did all they could."
He passed away on Tuesday.
Dawson says, "I think Dale was just one of those people that you gravitate toward and so when that kind of person leaves the Earth, it just leaves kind of a little hole."
"I had his phone," Jewell says, "and I got over 200 messages from people who didn't even know who he was and they told me they were praying for him and for his family and I definitely want to let them now that it was heard and seen and appreciated by everyone in his family."
A picture of Dale and his mother still hangs outside room 604.
Jewell explains, "Honestly, what keeps pushing me through is our son. If I didn't have him I would be in shambles, but I look into his eyes and I see his dad and I know his dad is fine now."
Life is not a fairytale. "I'm pretty numb right now," admits Jewell. Yet at the end of this story, Ashley Jewell has found just a bit of peace: "I know now that he has no more pain."
That's her happily ever after.
There will be a public visitation for Dale Monteith this Sunday from 7-9 at Mt. Zion Baptist Church at 1427 Dixie Highway in Louisville.
Man's dream of marriage comes true even as he fights cancer
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