COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - How do you create a legacy worthy of someone who wasn’t supposed to be gone this soon?
That’s the question Michael Bank has grappled with for the past year since his wife Laurin died in October of 2018. She died just six months after the couple married in Columbia.
Laurin had just turned 30 years old.
“She was absolutely gorgeous. At our wedding, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room, seeing her,” Michael remembered. “She was so excited she was skipping down the aisle to me. We ended up skipping out.”
You might remember us covering their wedding story when it went viral in 2018 – after photos of Laurin, bald and beautiful in her wedding dress at Tree of Life Synagogue in Columbia, swept the internet.
Her story touched millions across the web and the couple was featured on a number of online platforms after their wedding. She reached thousands through her Facebook page turned blog, The Polka Dot Queen, as she encouraged other people who were also battling their cancer diagnoses.
At the time, Michael and Laurin were hopeful that the clinical trial Laurin was participating in would be her ticket to kicking cancer for good.
“She found a way, no matter what, to smile, to get out, to have a great time,” Michael said. “To live, to love, to laugh, to make incredible memories. She was such a beautiful light and the world will never be the same without her.”
She was diagnosed with breast cancer at 26, and was told by doctors that it had returned when she was just 28 years old. The couple was in the midst of planning the wedding at the time and doctors told them they needed to move the date up because they weren’t sure how her condition would be by the time she and Michael were to be married.
“We had decided that the day of our wedding was very special to us,” Michael said. “It was three years to the day that we had met, so we decided that no matter what we were gonna get married on that day.”
Six months from that day in spring of 2018, Laurin passed away at home. Michael has spent the past year traveling, grieving and trying to figure out how to best honor his wife. He said it took a lot of thought – but he’s come up with this.
“She was always talking to me about being afraid that her nieces and nephews, because some of them were very young, wouldn’t remember her,” Michael said. “What I’ve decided to do is I want to create a scholarship fund in her name. And I want that scholarship fund to be available for people who have lost their parents to cancer, or for people whose parents are going through cancer. I’m still finalizing the details.”
Michael teamed up with In the Middle, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing financial assistance to women undergoing treatment for breast cancer. He said it costs $25,000 initially to create the fund in perpetuity.
“She was such a giver,” Michael said. “She spent so much time wanting to help others, so I want to continue that blessing for years and years to come.”