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Kent Moss and Maggie Zielinski

Most couples spend about a year planning their wedding.

Kent Moss and Maggie Zielinski put theirs together in just eight days.

And it was perfect.

The couple was married in the blue valet lobby at Moffitt Cancer Center on December 16. It was a meaningful date: Kent’s boss’s 40th wedding anniversary and Maggie’s late father’s birthday. Maggie wore a beautiful illusion neckline and lace wedding dress; Kent slipped on a tie over his hospital gown and wore a suit jacket with a boutonniere the nurses from his floor made for him. Their mothers gathered poinsettias from around the hospital to create the perfect ceremony backdrop and about 50 people—some coming from as far away as Washington—celebrated their love. After the ceremony, the couple left in the “getaway vehicle,” a wheelchair decorated with cans and a “Just Married” sign.

It was a day seven years in the making. Maggie called “dibs” on Kent when he and his friend set up a beach game in front her. She made a few jokes about his game and Kent was hooked. He says he knew after their first date she was the one.

The couple's first big test came this past February, when Kent was diagnosed with melanoma and scheduled for surgery. It also put things into perspective for Kent.

“I told myself, ‘come on Kent, you should have proposed by now,’” he said.

That April he did.

The couple made plans for a 2019 wedding, but a few weeks ago doctors made a sobering suggestion: bump up the wedding date.

“It was terrifying,” said Maggie. “Just heartbreaking.”

But the couple took it in stride and when Kent was hospitalized about a week ago at Moffitt, they knew it was time.

“I think people thought the wedding was going to be sad, but it wasn’t,” said Maggie. “It was very special and everything I could have asked for.”

“It wasn’t what we expected or planned for, but it was perfect,” said Kent. “The entire hospital—the nurses, security, the chaplains—all went out of their way to do everything they could to make the wedding happen.”

Two days after the wedding, Kent was discharged from the hospital to return home under hospice care. He says he is looking forward to spending time with his new wife.