Late on Monday night, nestled away in a private garden, Charmaine Suter and Daniel Lucic were married after a nine year romance.
The venue was the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, in Melbourne’s Parkville, where Charmaine is an inpatient in the palliative care ward, receiving treatment for ovarian cancer.
The song was an acoustic version of Elvis Presley’s ‘Can’t help falling in love with you’, played by music therapist Stef Zappino.
And the flowing dress was in Charmaine’s favourite colour – green.
“It was magical…My mum is old school and for her, having me get married would have been the dream,” says Charmaine, as she and Daniel reminisce about their impromptu, but very special, wedding.
While Victorian hospitals remain closed to most visitors, senior staff are permitted to make exceptions on compassionate grounds and they were happy to do so for Charmaine and Daniel’s wedding.
A celebrant was found, cakes were bought and there were lots of flowers.
Charmaine and Daniel met in Sydney when he applied for a role at a chain of retail stores she managed.
“We made a connection…and we kept running into each other, going out to various venues and events in Sydney,” Daniel says.
“We never really had the talk about whether we were together or not, we just knew we were.”
Charmaine and Daniel could never really settle on an anniversary date, so they allocated the whole of October to their anniversary festivities each year.
In Daniel’s mind that meant October 2021 was the time for a proposal – but the romantic weekend he planned was cancelled due to COVID-19 restrictions.
“It all lined up with our anniversary and it was also nine years – and nine is Charmaine’s number,” he says.
Charmaine’s experiences when she first began her treatment for ovarian cancer created a special empathy for the solo women she met undergoing treatment in hospital and prompted her to start a fundraising campaign.
“I remember I felt like I was the youngest person in the ward and there were a lot of females on their own,” she says.
“As I learned about ovarian cancer, I realised the survival rate isn’t great. It’s really risky, so I wanted to build awareness.”
Charmaine started the Blow A Kiss For Her campaign (#blowakissforher) and teamed up with the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation for their White Shirt Campaign fundraiser, raising more than $18,000.
Charmaine and Daniel are now talking names. She has decided to hyphenate her name, and has made a suggestion that Daniel might do the same!
February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.