THE DAY Don Kinsman learned he was dying of cancer, he asked his sweetheart of five years to marry him.
The 62-year-old had been told doctors couldn’t do any more to stop the aggressive cancer spreading from his chest.
Dawne says she accepted without a second thought.
“We were in the carpark of the hospital and he said ‘That’s not the best news, because I was going to ask you to marry me’,” she says.
The pair wed at a family member’s home on February 16, surrounded by friends and family.
But a planned honeymoon in Ohakune had to be cancelled because Don was too unwell.
He was admitted to Mercy Hospice in Ponsonby a week after the wedding.
So staff stepped in to transform his wardroom into a romantic honeymoon suite, with candles, flowers and chocolates. “We had a feeling something special was being planned, and when we saw the room I just fell on the bed and cried,” Dawne says.
“It was a hugely special moment and was absolutely amazing.”
The couple met 20 years ago while Dawne was working at a real estate agency in Epsom.
They became friends, and when Don moved to Australia, Dawne later followed to help with his business.
Don says they lived a “rather gypsy lifestyle”.
“When most people were moving to Bondi Beach, I travelled around the world twice,” he says.
“But being home, coming full circle, it’s a great place to land.”
Don’s cancer is incurable, despite 30 radiation treatments and three operations on his back and arm.
The couple say every staff member at Mercy is special, and has helped them through a trying time.
The honeymoon suite “made Don happy, which is part of the healing”, Dawne says.
Volunteer coordinator Julie Reid says the celebration was “one example of the extra mile volunteer staff go to help”.
The Ponsonby hospice, opened last year, also provides art-therapy sessions, a biography service for patients, Indian dinners and even occasionally weddings.
Cakes and flowers have been donated, and staff and volunteers rally to make what may be a patient’s final wish come true. Ms Reid says it’s about “celebrating life and making it special”.
Dawne, who has had previous experience with hospice, says the service is still as wonderful as she remembers. “Hospital is hospital but the hospice is done with love.”
The couple say to be finally married has made them both very happy. — Finbarr Bunting is an AUT journalism student
Newlyweds: Dawne and Don Kinsman were surprised with a honeymoon suite at Mercy Hospice.