March 14, 2008
Making one last dream come true

Camelia Rodriguez had long pictured her wedding day: the white dress, the flowers, the celebration surrounded by family and friends. Most of all, she was looking forward to becoming the wife of Jorge Estuardo, her partner of more than eight years. But when she was admitted to the MGH with advanced breast cancer in December 2007, her dream seemed in jeopardy. Rodriguez was simply too sick to plan and participate in a wedding.

the bride and groomOn Feb. 20, however, that all changed. That morning, Rodriguez announced she felt better than she had in many days; so good, in fact, that she wanted to get married — that very day. Rodriguez's caregivers had just hours to create her special day. After learning of the plans, Amelia Barbosa, RN, Rodriguez's nurse, and Sara Macchiano, RN, nursing director for White 9, and the unit's entire staff immediately sprang into action, enlisting the help of colleagues from across the MGH. Pat Rowell, director of Volunteer and Interpreter Services, worked with her staff to incorporate the couple's Mexican heritage into the ceremony, which included decoratively wrapped coins for the bride and groom to exchange during the service. Rodriguez's family provided a traditional Mexican wedding gown, and the MGH Flower Shop donated a bridal bouquet and arrangements. Bessie Manley, RN, nursing director of Phillips 22, offered to host the wedding in her floor's family lounge, and Eleni Balasalle of Radiology Educational Media Services volunteered her services as videographer. The ceremony, performed in Spanish by a priest from the couple's local church, was translated by Patricio Gonzalez of MGH Interpreter Services. Afterward, the newlyweds and their family and friends enjoyed a reception and wedding cake provided by MGH Nutrition and Food Services.

A WISH FULFILLED: Camelia Rodriguez and Jorge Estuardo celebrate their wedding with family and friends by their sides.

Sadly, Rodriguez died Feb. 26, just six days after she wed her husband, but she left an indelible mark on the MGH community. "This was an amazing event to watch unfold," says Macchiano. "We saw the caring community of the MGH at its best, and we truly witnessed the power and strength of the human spirit."

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