A groom rushed to marry his beloved partner of 33 years and arranged their wedding in just nine days after doctors found a huge cancerous tumor.
Mairi Macphail, 66, from Yardley in Birmingham, has developed a yellow coloring to her skin from Jaundice and requires daily care after being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer in her bile duct.
The 21cm tumor was described by one medic as the “largest he had come across”, Birmingham Live reports.
Mairi and her proud new husband David Keatley, 65, were advised to move their wedding day forward from May 15 to Easter Saturday due to the rapid deterioration of Mairi’s health.
David told Birmingham Live: “Our day couldn’t have gone better, the service was great, the weather was beautiful.
“We’re over the moon that we got married, that day was very special.
“We did have lots of plans but we plan day to day now.
“We have both accepted that she is going to pass but, we both believe when you pass you go to a better place.
“We arranged the wedding in nine days.
“We hadn’t given any thought to any rings, I went to a jeweler, got a measuring tool, went back to the hospital, measured her finger and got the rings the next day.”
Inspired by their fast-tracked wedding, Mairi’s son proposed to his girlfriend of 15 years and they’ll tie the knot on Wednesday this week so his mum can see them married before she dies.
Mairi even received a special message from Aston Villa midfielder John McGinn, who wished her all the best for her “last moments” with her family.
David, who met his wife 33 years ago in a Broad Street nightclub, said: “I asked her to marry me a long time ago.
“There was always something more important to do than getting married. We left it, we were happy together.
“We thought it would be good to get married before I retired, then Covid came.
“So that didn’t happen and just over a year ago Mairi was diagnosed with cancer of the bile duct.”
She had been suffering from symptoms for three or four months, but due to the pandemic, “there was always more important things to do”, her carer and husband explained.
“She had an uncomfortable feeling in her side and bloating, but thought it was irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). She started to get a bit tired as well.
“Eventually I was badgering her saying: ‘Something’s not quite right, go and get it checked out.'”
Medics carried out blood tests before they saw Mairi, with the results later showing “something wasn’t right.”
David, who is an AVFC season ticket holder alongside his wife, added: “When the doctor examined he said: ‘I think you’ve got some sort of tumor and, quite frankly, it’s the largest tumor I’ve ever come across’ It was 14cm at that point.
“They called another two doctors into the surgery to have a feel.” Mairi then quietly pitches in: “You could even see it.”
She stopped working as a client accountant in April, shortly after the diagnosis – though she is still employed by the company.
Mairi underwent chemotherapy from June until September in the hopes of shrinking the large tumor, with the possibility of surgery if it reduced in size.
But a scan in September sadly confirmed the tumor had only grown.
“It grew to 19cm. It had laughed in our face and said I’m still growing,” David said.
“We called it Boris to start with, now we call it Putin because it’s really nasty now.
“At that time in September, a doctor said she’d never seen a lady with a tumor the size she’d got look so well.”
After the news, the couple began searching for drug trials, but all four were unsuitable for Mairi’s rare type of cancer – and the stage it was at.
Another bout of chemotherapy began from October until early January.
“Another scan found it hadn’t shrunk, it had grown a bit more to 21cm,” I explained.
“They stopped it, there was no point of carrying on putting more poison into her body.
“She then spent from mid January – mid February in hospital; her temperature kept spiking.
“Eventually it took a long time to rule things out, including sepsis. Temperatures were coming from the tumor.
“When she was in hospital she lost weight, I saw her once because I couldn’t see her.
“She came out of hospital and she was visibly weaker.
“It was then decided that the only course was to have palliative care. They could do things to try to prolong life.”
There wasn’t a bed available and she was taken to ward 23 at Heartlands the following day to be assessed.
While at the hospital, she suffered a fall and broke her hip – which meant she could not walk down the aisle on her wedding day.
Instead, she had to be wheeled down by her son in a wheelchair.
District nurses now come daily to top up her medication, which is given via a ‘driver’ and includes a little bit of Morphine for 24 hours a day.
“She was waiting to have another CT scan, when she eventually had that, they realized it would be too invasive to do anything to help the jaundice,” he recalled.
“By this time they knew of our plans to get married, because I asked her a few days before she went into hospital. I was making arrangements to get married May 15.”
Because they are both divorced, the couple had to obtain permission from a bishop for a special license.
He said: “Mairi rang me up and said they know of our plans the doctor suggests if we could bring the date of the wedding forward, we should.
“There’s another wedding next week because Mairi’s son has asked his girlfriend to marry him. They’ve got a special waiver, that’s next Wednesday.
“They decided once they knew that we decided to get married it was the catalyst for them to do it, Stuart realized perhaps his mum hasn’t got a lot of time left and she’ll be happy to see them married.”