Terminally ill-woman dies one hour after marrying soulmate of 20 years in hospital bed

The 57-year-old was diagnosed with cancer in November

Terminally ill-woman dies one hour after marrying soulmate of 20 years in hospital bed

Paul Faith / PA Archive/Press Association Images

A woman suffering from cancer fulfilled her dying wish by marrying the love of her life before passing away an hour later in hospital.

Jacqueline (nee Murray) McCullagh (57) married her partner of 20 years Martin McCullagh from her bed in the Altnagelvin hospital in Londonderry last month.

The pair had intended on marrying on their 60th birthday before Jacqueline was diagnosed with small cell and lung cancer in November, prompting them to bring the ceremony forward. Her husband Martin describes how a registrar agreed to marry them both in hospital after Jacqueline was admitted with chest pain.

''She came out of hospital just before Christmas after a very bad chemotherapy experience but she was recovering and things were going well. We even thought we would book the wedding six weeks from then as we thought we had that time as she was doing so well, but unfortunately a week before she died she was suffering from chest pain.''

''Staff tried as much as they could to keep her going but they realised the day before she died that things were getting bad.''

"We spoke to the registrar and she agreed to marry us in the hospital. The staff on Ward 4 were amazing. They had friends who donated flowers and they took over one of the consulting rooms and made it into a chapel for us on the Saturday morning.''

McCullagh, who suffered from spine cancer four years ago, went on to describe how the staff converted the hospital into a beautiful setting for the ceremony. Unfortunately, Jacqueline's condition deteriorated shortly afterwards.  

"The room was stunning and they got cake and sandwiches and staff were coming in on their days off - they really made a massive effort.

"Unfortunately, Jacqui was so weak that she couldn't make it into that room so we got married at her bedside. She shouted, 'I do' at the top of her voice -her strength left me absolutely shocked, she was a really strong woman. The registrar was in tears and she forgot to tell me to put the ring on, it was chaos.''

"After we got married we had a beautiful kiss and then the medical staff said she was beginning to suffer badly and that we would have to let her go, so she passed away with me holding her hand. It was so peaceful after all the pain and agony."

The mother's ashes were scattered at the grave of her son who was murdered in England in January 2003.