Colon Cancer

Town celebrates wedding, graduation with beloved doctor days before his death

  • A day after "Dr. Dan" learned his cancer had spread, the town stepped up to help him celebrate important milestones.

    A day after "Dr. Dan" learned his cancer had spread, the town stepped up to help him celebrate important milestones.  (Daniel P. Harrahill - Tribute Video)

  • His daughter decided to move up her June wedding so that they could celebrate together.

    His daughter decided to move up her June wedding so that they could celebrate together.  (Daniel P. Harrahill - Tribute Video)

Dr. Dan Harrahill was well known and liked in his Nebraska town, where he delivered hundreds of babies and treated countless patients over his 18-year career. So, when word spread that the father of four’s colon cancer had taken a turn for the worse, and that he might not live to see his daughter’s June wedding or son’s high school graduation, the community of St. Paul stepped up, Omaha.com reported.

On March 24, a day after 52-year-old Harrahill learned his cancer was inoperable, it took friends and family three hours to arrange a graduation ceremony for his son Noah followed by a wedding for his daughter Emilia to her now-husband Kyle Harshman at CIH Health St. Francis Hospital. Family members made the last-minute arrangements for travel, flowers, music and a caterer, Omaha.com reported.

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“Social media can do wonderful things, and they used it to get everyone there,” Rev. Ray Kosmicki, one of the two priests who officiated Emilia and Kyle’s wedding, told Omaha.com.

For Noah’s graduation, his classmates and the school’s choir director provided music, as well as graduation caps and gowns, Ohama.com reported. A special graduation program was typed up, and the valedictorian and salutatorian gave prepared speeches, Omaha.com reported.

“He was smiling from ear to ear the whole time we had the wedding and graduation,” his wife, Shelly, told Omaha.com. “It was one of the best days of his life, even under the circumstances.”

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A Facebook page, Dr. Dan’s Fans, has been flooded with messages of condolences as patients shared their favorite memories of the beloved doctor, who died April 1. His final case was March 16, in which he delivered a healthy baby girl.

“This is my brother Mark’s first grandchild!” a poster wrote on the Facebook page. “Her name is Faithlynn. She was delivered by Dr. Harrahill on March 16, 2017. Just this year. I think she is adorable. My parents would be proud if they could see her. An [sic] I also think she resembles my mom, whom Dr. Harrahill took care of back 13 years ago when she was diagnosed with acute mal…. Thank you Dr. Harrahill! Just thank you! God bless you always!”