Lauren Elizabeth O’Malley and Jake Robert Woodward were married Oct. 19 at Weddings at Windy Knoll, an events space in Round Top, Texas. The Rev. Emily Chapman, a United Methodist minister, officiated.
The bride, 27, is a lawyer in Houston for the Department of Justice. She graduated from Pepperdine University and received a law degree from Georgetown.
She is the daughter of Kalli S. O’Malley and Kevin M. O’Malley, both of Houston. The bride is the stepdaughter of Melanie M. O’Malley and Terry M. Giles.
The groom, also 27, is a litigation associate at the Houston law firm Rogers, Morris & Grover. He graduated from Ohio State University and also received a law degree from Georgetown.
He is a son of Brenda Woodward and Bob Woodward of Fairfield, Ohio.
The couple met on the dating app Tinder in September 2014, two weeks after each had noticed the other in law classes at Georgetown.
“We had seen each other around campus but had not yet been introduced by mutual friends,” Ms. O’Malley said. “I really liked his smile, and thought he was very handsome.”
She made the first move. “I messaged him and said, ‘What’s up section mate?”
They were soon on a first date at the recreation center on campus, where Mr. Woodward taught Ms. O’Malley how to operate many of the exercise machines.
“He was a great guy with a great personality,” she said. “My biggest decision that day was picking out a shirt that looked athletic and cute but did not show any signs of sweat.”
They began dating steadily and Ms. O’Malley soon revealed to Mr. Woodward that she had a heart condition. “Monitoring my condition has always been a priority for me,” she said. “It’s always in the back of my mind.”
They quickly fell in love, and “became each other’s everything,” said Mr. Woodward, who entered Ms. O’Malley’s mother in his cellphone as “Future Mother-in-Law.”
In January 2015, Ms. O’Malley had a heart-related seizure, and in February 2016, she began feeling intense pain and was rushed to the emergency room at George Washington University Hospital in Washington, where she was diagnosed with a large mass on her ovary.
Doctors told Ms. O’Malley that the ovarian mass had metastasized, and that essentially, she had advanced ovarian cancer. Mr. Woodard began rallying around her and offering all the support he could, prompting Ms. O’Malley to quietly say to her mother, “I don’t think Jake gets it — I don’t think he knows I’m dying.”
A few days later, Ms. O’Malley was transported to the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, where she received better news: The ovarian mass had not metastasized, and the tumor was surgically removed, leaving her cancer free.
Despite the ordeal, Ms. O’Malley and Mr. Woodward were able to graduate on time from law school, and both passed the Texas Bar Exam on their first try.
In October 2017, Mr. Woodward proposed to Ms. O’Malley during a walk to a Halloween party through the Japanese Garden at Hermann Park in Houston. He was dressed as Prince Charming, and she as Cinderella.
In December 2018, their love story was interrupted once more by cancer, and this time, it was Mr. Woodward who began battling the disease.
The day after Christmas, his speech became slurred and he could not chew. He was rushed to the emergency room at MD Anderson Cancer Center, and was told he had myasthenia gravis, an autoimmune neuromuscular disease.
A few days later scans revealed that Mr. Woodward had cancer of the thymus gland.
“I thought to myself, how could this be happening to us, first I got sick and now Jake,” Ms. O’Malley said. “We have relied on God and the depths of our true love to get us through some of our most excruciating days — and those prayers have been answered because I still have my Prince Charming.”
Though Mr. Woodward’s large tumor was also surgically removed, and he too is now cancer free, he remains in a weakened state, and at times still has trouble breathing.
“Lauren and I joke that during our exchange of wedding vows, we can skip the ‘in sickness’ because we have that part down pat,” Mr. Woodward said with a laugh.
“The most important thing for us is that I will be strong enough to walk Lauren down the aisle and give her the fairy-tale wedding she has always wanted,” he said. “Then it’s just a matter of us getting healthier and growing old together because there’s still so much in life for us to enjoy.”