No one thinks of a hospital room as the ideal setting for a wedding but for Robert Ferreira, today was the perfect day and Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital was the perfect place to exchange vows with his sweetheart. The 65-year-old cancer patient was planning on marrying his girlfriend of five years in July. A stage 4 cancer diagnosis three weeks ago though changed those plans. This afternoon, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System Chaplin Chriss Peterson officiated a ceremony between Ferreira and his bride, Vilma Cabading.

“The last few weeks have been surreal,” says Robert Ferreira. “ The one constant in my life is my love for Vilma. We wanted to be married and my cancer diagnosis was not going to rob me of that joy.”

When Robert’s caregivers at Salinas Valley Memorial heard of his wish today to get married as soon as possible, they quickly worked with SVMHS Patient Experience team members Cynthia Vargas and Cara Couture to make the event special for the bride and groom. Social worker Bree Nakashima also helped get the planning for the wedding under way. Charge Nurse Mercy Stoffey, RN coordinated the details and sent her daughter to the store to pick up decorations. Hospital staff made a congratulations sign with symbols of love to hang over the hospital bed. Unit Assistant Jenny Jacobs-Ellis made flower arrangements for the room and a boutonniere for the groom. Clinical Manager Marian Fox went to the hospital gift shop and bought a beautiful white blouse for the bride. Service League Volunteers used some of their funds to buy a bouquet for Vilma and Community Outreach Coordinator Claudia Otero called a local store to see about getting some rings. Joy Per’s generously donated a matching wedding set for the couple. Albert Gutierrez Avila a supervisor in Nutrition Environmental Services put his talents to work to make a cake. The white frosting was decorated on top with fresh strawberries, blueberries and a strawberry glaze in the shape of a heart. SVMHS Administrative Assistant Meredith Evans who has an extensive photography background acted as the wedding photographer.

"The staff here is amazing,” says Vilma Cabading. “Every bride dreams of her wedding day and thanks to everyone here, my special day could not have been more beautiful. I am so touched by what everyone has done for us.”

Too weak to sit up, Robert lay in his hospital bed as Chaplin Peterson performed the ceremony and the couple exchange vows. Tears were streaming down Vilma's face as she leaned over and kissed Robert for the first time as husband and wife. She was not alone in showing her emotions. The staff that gathered to witness the event knew they had been a part of something special.

“Every day we care for our patients with compassion,” says Mercy Stoffey, RN. “We don’t get many wedding requests though and it was an honor to help make this day special for Robert and Vilma.”

The Los Banos couple is not sure what the future holds but Mr. and Mrs. Ferreira are grateful they are facing it together.