GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) – When Harley Thomas learned in August that he would have just three months to live, he told his doctors he wanted nothing more than to marry the woman he loves.
The Cancer Team at Bellin Health granted that wish Thursday, and hosted a wedding for Thomas and Lori Feeley. Area businesses donated everything from Feeley’s dress to the cake.
“It’s just a matter of time before I pass on. I just wanted to be married to Lori. That was one of my goals in life,” Thomas said. “I didn’t know how to go about it. … They (Bellin staff) heard my cry. They made it happen for me. I felt kind of numb. I was in shock.”
Thomas was diagnosed with cancer in October. He has stage 4 cancer in his lungs and eight tumors in his head – and he is done with treatment.
Press-Gazette Media reported (http://gbpg.net/1pV1auX ) that Thomas and Feeley, both 56, met nearly nine years ago. Thomas had asked Feeley to marry him more than eight times, and each time she said yes. But the couple struggled with job losses, illnesses and injury, and they were homeless more often than not.
Every dollar earned went toward food or clothes for Feeley’s two children, and Thomas couldn’t afford a marriage license.
The couple found jobs last October when Thomas got sick. He had become increasingly dizzy and had problems with his vision, and the symptoms became so severe he crashed his bike into the emergency room doors when he went for help, he said. Thomas lost his job again. Feeley also lost hers because she missed too much work while taking care of Thomas.
“It’s been a struggle. A long hard struggle for both of us,” Thomas said.
Bellin’s Cancer Team has helped patients achieve life goals before, but going as far as they did for Thomas is rare, team leader Peg Savoie said. Family, friends and medical staff attended the garden wedding.
“I think there was a special connection with him,” Savoie said. “He’s invited us to participate in a such a personal event with him. That is a huge compliment to this team.”
Thomas said he feels blessed, despite all he has faced.
“I’m rich in my heart, and I’m happy because the Lord is there for us. That makes things right for me,” he said.