Julie Neilson and Michael Duffy, who are parents to five girls – one who is also terminally ill – got engaged last Christmas Eve nd had planned to get married in 2022
Image: DAILY RECORD)
An engaged couple brought their wedding forward and got wed after the groom was told he has ‘weeks to months’ to live
Julie Neilson and Michael Duffy, who are parents to five girls, got engaged last Christmas Eve and had planned to tie the knot in 2022 before they found out the devastating news.
Machinist Michael, 44, was told in early December that he had secondary cancer in his liver which is terminal.
Sadly one of the couple’s daughter Ava has stage five cerebral palsy and a range of other medical conditions which are also sadly terminal, Daily Record reports.
With their children in tow, the couple, from North Lanarkshire, decided they had to tie the knot quickly and booked the wedding for Celtic Park in tribute to Michael’s beloved Hoops.
Julie, 41, told the Record said: “It feels amazing that after all this time it has finally happened.
“It still hasn’t sunk in yet and I think it will take a while for both me and Michael to settle down and let it all sink in.
“It’s all been non-stop with dresses and make-up artists today, Michael had to sneak out of the house at 9am to go to his pals so he wouldn’t see my dress.
“I’ve been keeping it hidden from everyone – not even the bridal party got to see my dress until I went down the aisle.”
It has been a whirlwind month for the pair who set about the task of organising their dream wedding in just over three weeks.
Julie said: “It’s been a very busy couple of weeks.
“On December 5 we were given the news that Michael had secondary adenocarcinoma of the liver.
“It has an unknown origin. The doctors can’t find the primary cancer because Michael’s own immune system has actually managed to fight that off.
“But part of the cancer has broken away and attacked his liver.
“The doctors have said it is very aggressive and he just has weeks to months.
“Michael proposed to me last Christmas Eve and we’ve been together for four years but we have known each other most of our lives.
“He was my high school crush and it’s just unbelievable this has all come together.”
Julie and Michael have been supported by the Wedding Wish Makers charity and generous donations from loved ones and well-wishers to help create their dream big day.
But there was only one venue that would do for Celtic-fan Michael.
Julie said: “Michael is a big Hoops fan, I don’t know that much about football but I like to help out with his predictions.
“It has been hard to organise with all the hospital visits and Michael’s diagnosis being so new.
“But I’m used to it because my daughter Ava is medically complex and terminally ill. She has level five cerebral palsy and is medically fragile, it means she requires 24/7 care.
“She can’t swallow properly and has to be fed through a button in her stomach.
“So when Michael was given his news it was especially devastating- he has been my support and helped me get through it all.”
With the pair now married, Julie says they are not giving up hope yet.
They managed to get stem cell treatment for Ava in Panama around five years ago that has improved her quality of life, and Julie hopes to find treatment for Michael.
She said: “We are looking at all sorts of different options and seeing if there is anything we can do to slow down his condition or somewhere we can get a better variety of treatments.
“We are not giving up yet. We are fighters.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.