Cas, Heather and their fur baby Peppa
On Monday December 18, Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre in Melbourne will host one of Australia’s first legal same-sex marriages for palliative care patient Cas Willow, 53 and her partner of 17 years, Heather Richards, 56.
The wedding will take place at the Peter MacCallum Wellness Centre, and the couple will be surrounded by close friends and family, including Cas’ three children from her first marriage.
Last Monday the couple were granted a waiver to the 30 day waiting period as Cas may have just weeks to live.
After being diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer, Cas found out that she carries the BRCA gene mutation. Her treatment involved a double mastectomy, having her ovaries removed and rounds of radiation and chemotherapy. Believing she had beaten the cancer earlier this year, Cas was devastated to find out the cancer had metastasised to her brain. She received that news just days before the same-sex marriage postal survey results were released on November 15.
Cas and Heather proposed to each other just after midnight on December 8, hours after marriage equality was legalised in Parliament.
"We asked one another and lit a little candle. It was beautiful," Cas told The Age newspaper.
It was Peter Mac Spiritual Care team staff who first suggested the couple apply for a fast-tracked wedding and Peter Mac has organised the event for the couple.
Peter Mac CEO Dale Fisher told staff in a statement that “We have been overwhelmed by the generosity of our community and suppliers, who have donated both goods and services to create a memorable event for Cas and Heather.”
Cas and Heather would like people to donate money to Peter Mac so that others on the cancer journey can benefit from the care and compassion that they have received.
“Our journey through Cas’ disease has been at Peter Mac. And the team and the facility is truly world class and simply amazing. In our opinion, second to none,” Heather wrote on the couple’s fundraising page.
“We have found the Peter Mac staff to be friendly, warm and more importantly accepting of us and our committed relationship to one another, creating a safe and secure environment for us.”
Heather says that being married will make the couple's last few weeks together "complete", and "It means our relationship won't just be tolerated, it will be accepted."
In his statement to Peter Mac staff, Fisher wrote that Cas’s “legacy will be a powerful message of life, love and being well during treatment.”
Click here to donate to the Peter MacCallum Foundation and contribute to Cas's legacy.
We will make sure that messages of love and support for the couple left on the Accidentally Alex Facebook page are passed on to Cas and Heather on Monday.