Couple celebrates 30th anniversary with Taco Bell photo shoot after wife’s cancer remission

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“It all started when a girl met a boy in the parking lot of Taco Bell over 30 years ago. Cruising Center Street in Deer Park was what we did for fun back then — we would stop at the Taco Bell parking lot to talk to cute guys. Well I married that cute guy, Donnie, nine months later on May 8, 1987.

bride and groom hand in hand cutting their wedding cake in black and white
Karen Bell

Every time we would pass that Taco Bell we would always say, ‘Awe, that’s our Taco Bell.’ Our two sons always laughed at us. We were driving by OUR Taco Bell 29 years later and were devastated when we saw it was being torn down. But to our surprise, they were actually rebuilding it. I told Donnie, ‘For our 30th anniversary, we need to do a photo shoot there to celebrate at the place our love story began.’

husband and wife smiling in front of taco bell sign wearing shirts that read, "Mr." and "Mrs."
Stacey Brandon Photography

On May 8, 2017, I had a checkup at MD Anderson before heading to the Taco Bell. My best friend Stacey met us there to snap some pictures. I made us t-shirts for the occasion. It just seemed fitting as our last name is Bell. We told the girl who took our order why we were there, and she said, ‘Oh, how cute!’

husband and wife ordering food at taco bell
Stacey Brandon Photography

We sat in a corner table and took a few photos. Donnie was embarrassed because other customers were watching. I just laughed at him.

husband and wife take bite of opposite end of taco with a tray off food in front of them at taco bell
Stacey Brandon Photography
husband and wife holding up their cup and sipping out of straw
Stacey Brandon Photography
husband and wife hands are held on taco bell tray next to wrapped tacos
Stacey Brandon Photography
husband and wife sitting and smiling at taco bell table
Stacey Brandon Photography

About the MD Anderson visit — in April 2014 I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. When you hear the word cancer, all you think about is your family and everything you never did. Once the initial shock wears off, then you put on your big girl pants and decide to fight like hell.

husband shaving wifes head who has cancer
Stacey Brandon Photography
wife without hair sitting and smiling in hospital bed as husband has his arms around her smiling
Stacey Brandon Photography
Smiling cancer patient standing next to an IV with sign that says, "this is probably vodka"
Stacey Brandon Photography

After a very long year of surgery and chemo, I decided that I would not let cancer define me. I am one of the lucky ones. I have been cancer-free since December 2014.

woman with cancer smiling and ringing a cold bell in hospital hallway
Karen Bell

Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do. So, that’s exactly what I do and how I live my life. Stacey and I have co-written and self-published a romantic book series, which is something we have always wanted to do.

two women smiling behind a table with books on it and a poster with cover of book on it
Karen Bell

I have traveled more, laughed more and loved life more. Cancer has taught me to treasure every day.

husband and wife in raincoats on a roped bridge crossing over a body of water on a cliff
Karen Bell

LOVE YOU MORE THAN TACOS.”

husband with arms wrapped around wife smiling
Stacey Brandon Photography
husband and wife sitting on stones with their two sons and dog smiling
Stacey Brandon Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Karen Bell, 48, of Mont Belvieu, Texas. Submit your own story here

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