Adrian Lam and Rika Vuong were planning for a late summer wedding in 2017 — a large celebration for all their friends and families. Instead, they wed inside a Toronto hospital room in January 2016 with just their immediate family as witnesses.
Lam’s father, Anthony, was diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer late last year and was admitted into palliative care at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre within weeks.
“As his sickness became more severe, we actually made the decision, ‘You know what, maybe we can do the marriage part here first just so that he can witness,'” said Lam.
The GTA couple, along with some helping hands, organized their in-hospital ceremony in two days.
Standing next to Anthony’s bed, Lam and Vuong exchanged their vows and celebrated the start of their lives together as husband and wife.
“He was really happy on that day,” said Vuong. “We were able to enjoy his best moments and have that on video and camera so we can cherish that memory.”
Three weeks later on Feb. 8, the start of the Lunar New Year, Anthony passed away at the age of 59.
The newlyweds hope that sharing their story will help other families start the difficult conversation of planning for end of life care.
“It’s a tough conversation to have because you don’t want to seem like you’ve given up,” said Vuong.
“Some family members didn’t want to talk about it, others wanted to avoid it. We just wanted to talk about it because we didn’t want to have regrets. There are still regrets, but at least we tried our best.”