A POWYS woman battling terminal cancer will renew her wedding vows this weekend, ahead of a charity event to help her raise funds for continued treatment.

Cat Mackay was given between 18 months and three years to live after being diagnosed with colon cancer in September 2020. Treatment was free on the NHS as recently as 2016, but is now only available privately, leading to Cat and husband Darren spending nearly £30,000 to battle it on their own.

Darren set up a fundraising page in order to pay for expensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment, which Cat undergoes every six weeks.

Approaching the three-year mark this September, Cat, 64, remains determined as ever to beat the disease, and she and Darren have been travelling to Germany regularly since the County Times first featured her story in January 2022.

After facing issues in the UK, the couple sought alternative treatment and found leading research professor Thomas Vogl at Frankfurt University Hospital who was able to offer something called transarterial chemoembolisation.

Cat says she has felt “amazing” and been “blown away” by the way she has been treated in Germany, but it all comes at a cost – with the five chemotherapy sessions plus travel and accommodation setting her back £20,000.

Added to the near £10,000 she paid for the private drug Avastin for a year after her diagnosis, she’s paid almost £30,000 to stay alive. She has resorted to selling furniture on Facebook, and even a caravan, while the ‘Help Kick Cancer’s Ass’ event being held in Llanddewi Village Hall this Saturday, June 3, will certainly help keep her fight going.

“It’s been so stressful trying to get together the various amounts of money every six weeks. It’s been exhausting,” said Cat, who has travelled to Frankfurt five times for treatment since her first visit last October.


The issue for Cat and Darren is that once they’ve funded one trip, they have to dig deeper to find the finances for the next bout six weeks later.   

This Saturday’s event will hopefully go some way to help pay for the sixth Germany trip. “We were going to do it when I first got diagnosed but it didn’t end up happening,” said Cat, who has praised the people in the tiny Llanddewi community, near Llandrindod Wells, where the couple live.

“People have been so generous. Farmer Steve Pugh has been really lovely, he’s allowed us the use of his land for the day, which is breathtakingly beautiful.

“I’ve got radiotherapy this week so it’s been a bit stressful but we’ve got friends coming from all over, including my best friend of 35 years, who’s coming from Ireland.”

Ahead of Saturday’s event, a day of live music, crafts and food and drink, taking place from 12noon to 11pm, Cat and Darren will renew their wedding vows – poignantly on the eve of their 10th wedding anniversary – on Friday night.

The ceremony is her way of saying thank you to the man who has been an absolute rock for her these last few years.

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“Darren’s been brilliant, he’s there for me in good times and in bad,” said Cat.

“I don’t know how I would have got this far without him. He’s changed my life, so this event is a way to show my appreciation to him.”

The ceremony will be conducted by Bernice Benton, an independent celebrant, based in Llanwrtyd Wells, who is gifting it to the couple for the occasion.

“Bernie is a bit nutty and an artist like me,” added Cat.

“She’s a very creative woman and has helped a lot with the preparation for the ceremony, including writing a beautiful piece that had us all in tears. She’s also written a poem which my eldest son Keith and Darren’s daughter Kayleigh will read together.”

Bernice – a Llanwrtyd B&B owner who also goes by the name of Lady Lily Pink and has stood for county council elections in Powys previously as a member of the Monster Raving Loony Party – said she has really connected with Cat since meeting her during her cancer fight.

County Times:  Kat says she has organised the wedding vow renewal as a tribute to husband Darren. The couple celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary later in June Kat says she has organised the wedding vow renewal as a tribute to husband Darren. The couple celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary later in June (Image: Cat Mackay)

“Both of them are such positive, smiley people,” said Bernice. 

“Initially Cat was arranging this with me as a surprise to Darren but she decided to propose to him again (he said yes). 

“She was not ready to give up that easily, they researched hard and found Dr Vogl in Germany and the treatment is working. Some areas of her cancer are almost gone, but it is a constant challenge to raise the money for the next trip and session.

“I offered Cat a vow renewal ceremony as a gift, it is something I knew she was keen to do in front of all her family and friends.

“On the evening of Friday, June 2, in a field in Llanddewi, surrounded by all her dearest friends, children and family I will be officiating a celebration of enduring love, gratitude and a celebration of the strength found in partnership and community.

“We don't know how much longer Cat has, but we do know she is determined to keep fighting and is going to enjoy every moment of her precious life.”

If you’ve been touched by Cat’s story and would like to donate, visit her fundraising page at https://www.gofundme.com/f/helping-cat-kick-cancers-ass. Alternatively, tickets to Saturday’s event are £10 or £20 for a family of four.