I cuddled my newlywed husband’s body all night after he died of cancer as I couldn’t face saying goodbye

I cuddled my newlywed husband’s body all night after he died of cancer as I couldn’t face saying goodbye

February 8, 2019

Lisa Barton, from 38, from Waltham Cross, Hertfordshire, thought partner Wayne, 36, was suffering from acid reflux but it tragically turned out to be oesophageal cancer.

He died just 10 weeks after their wedding day.

Now, Lisa shares her heartbreaking story with Fabulous Digital. 

Wearing my wedding dress, I watched as Wayne twirled our little girl round the dance floor.

A cheerful song was playing and it was a happy day but I could also see sadness in my husband’s eyes.

I met Wayne in 2008. Back then, I was a barmaid, and he was lorry driver. As a customer in the pub, I noticed him immediately. He was friendly, chatty and generous in buying the drinks.

We started dating and within three months we were living together.

The next few years were a busy blur – family life, holidays abroad and frequent gatherings with our close friends.

During one holiday in Mexico, I found out I was pregnant. When our daughter Bryony-May was born in May 2012, he was the first person to hold her.

Wayne was a fantastic dad, happy to help with feeds and nappy changes.

Two years later, I returned to work, training as a beautician. Our family life was busier than ever.

But in December 2015, Wayne started to feel unwell. He was having trouble swallowing his food, and suffering from acid reflux. He saw his GP several times before finally being referred to a hospital for tests.

In April 2016, he went for a hospital appointment while I waited at home with Bryony-May. Then my phone rang. I was devastated as Wayne told me it was cancer.

Later, we sat Bryony-May down for a talk. We didn’t tell her everything, but needed to prepare her for the fact that Wayne was going to be away from home a lot.

We said: “Daddy isn’t well, but the doctors are going to try and make him better.”

Wayne had oesophageal cancer. Doctors originally thought his illness would be curable with treatment. He began immunotherapy and chemotherapy to kill the cancer cells, while I quit my job to become his carer.

But three months on he was told his disease had spread to his liver and there was nothing more that could be done.

All I could think about was losing the man I loved, and imagining the day we’d have to say goodbye to each other.

In March 2017, during a spell when he was feeling a little better, Wayne and I had a night away at a hotel in London’s Docklands.

That night at dinner, Wayne suddenly got down on one knee and pulled out a ring.

But back home, reality hit us. With both of us unable to work we were struggling financially. How could we fund a wedding?

But in August 2017, after reading about our plight, wedding venue Hanbury Manor in Ware, Hertfordshire, offered to give us the use of their venue for free.

What is oesophageal cancer?

According oto the NHS, oesophageal cancer is a type of cancer affecting the oesophagus (gullet) – the long tube that carries food from the throat to the stomach.

It mainly affects people in their 60s and 70s and is more common in men than women.

It doesn't typically cause any symptoms in the early stages.

Symptoms of oesophageal cancer can include:

  • difficulty swallowing
  • persistent indigestion or heartburn
  • bringing up food soon after eating
  • loss of appetite and weight loss
  • pain or discomfort in your upper tummy, chest or back

If oesophageal cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, it may be possible to cure it with:

surgery, chemotherpay or radiotherapy.

If oesophageal cancer is diagnosed at a later stage, a cure may not be achievable.

The ceremony was organised in around six weeks – during which we also moved into a new home. Our big day was originally pencilled in for the last days of 2017, but had to be pushed forward on the advice of doctors. We married on November 19, 2017.

On the day, Wayne could hardly keep anything down, except water. But he found the strength to make it through the day.

As I walked down the aisle to meet him at the altar, a beautiful smile lit up his face. In that moment he didn’t look ill, he was just the same handsome man I had met.

He was the first on the dance floor, twirling about with our daughter. Then we had our own first dance, to Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us now by Starship.

Bryony-May, our bridesmaid, looked like a little princess and it was wonderful that she got to see her mum and dad so happy. For us to make our vows, in sickness and in health – those words meant the world to us.

But as the doctors had feared, Wayne’s health was failing. Just two days after our wedding, he was admitted to hospital with sepsis – his body was starting to shut down.

Nevertheless, he rallied a little, and asked to spend his last weeks at home with me and our daughter.

In his final days, he was losing his ability to speak. His last words to me, just before he died as I held him in my arms, were a whispered: “I love you.”

Wayne was only 36 when he died on at 8pm January 27, 2018 – 10 weeks after our wedding.

Around midnight I climbed into bed with him and lay next to his body until the following morning. I was freezing but I cuddled up to him. I just couldn’t bear to leave him.

It felt so right, I am so glad I did it. I stroked him and touched him, telling him I loved him.

February 14, 2018, was the date of Wayne’s funeral. Silently, as my husband’s coffin was lowered into the ground, I wished him Happy Valentine’s Day one last time.

The strength and positivity he showed during his illness was incredible, and now he lives on in our daughter. I see so much of him, in her, through her expressions and the way she acts.

Over the next months, my close friends set up an informal rota to make sure one of them was always there to support me. I don’t know how I’d have managed without them.

We always dreamed of one day returning to Mexico, to swim with dolphins, alongside our daughter. Wayne will never do that now. But perhaps Bryony-May and I will make it there together.

I went from bride to widow in only 70 days, and that is very hard to bear.

But I’m so thankful that I did get to marry my wonderful man. One day, I pray, I’ll dance with him again.

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