Damien Leask and Roda Newbery are looking forward to their wedding day with the help of My Wedding Wish.
Damien Leask and Roda Newbery are looking forward to their wedding day with the help of My Wedding Wish. Warren Lynam

Engaged couple facing terminal illness gifted a wedding

RODA Newbery had one rule for her boyfriend Damien Leask: don't ask me to marry you until we've been going out for two years.

But Damien couldn't wait, and broke the rule after just 12 months.

He had a very good reason, however, to be a man on a mission.

The road Damien and Roda have had to take has not been a smooth one, and continues to be a true test of character.

Damien was born with cystic fibrosis - a disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system.

The 36-year-old underwent a double lung transplant seven years ago, which overcame the majority of Damien's health problems until recently.

"A year ago, he was totally fine," Roda said.

But now, conquering even a few stairs is asking a lot of Damien.

In 2016, Damien's health took a sharp turn for the worse.

For a time after the transplant, Damien and Roda were required to make the 11-hour drive or flight from their Emerald home to Brisbane for check-ups every six weeks, which was mentally and financially draining.

Then last year, doctors found a cancer in Damien's lip, which was treated with radiation therapy. Shortly after, his body started rejecting the new lungs - possibly a result of the radiation.

Roda said Damien had now been told no more options were available as another transplant could trigger a reaction with other cancer cells lying dormant.

The positivity that has seen the couple through much hardship is also responsible for their choice of wedding venue on February 9, and ultimately, what connected them to My Wedding Wish.

My Wedding Wish is a Sunshine Coast-based national charity where couples facing terminal illness can apply to receive a fully gifted wedding, provided by various suppliers.

The organisation was founded by marriage celebrant and University of the Sunshine Coast creative writing lecturer Lynette Maguire.

In conjunction with Damien and Roda's wishes, Dr Maguire has brought together all the finer details - from a reception DJ to caterers - to create a $25,000 extravaganza.

When Roda discovered that Bli Bli's Sunshine Castle hosted weddings, the idea of being a princess in a medieval castle for their big day appealed almost immediately.

"They're a gorgeous couple - very much in love and they laugh a lot," Dr Maguire said.

Damien and Roda are taking each day as it comes and are enjoying the time they have together.



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