When Steve Aubrey and his partner, Sally, get married this week, they will take great pleasure in not opening any wedding presents.
The couple, who have been together for ten years, will walk down the aisle at Southampton’s Ageas Bowl Hilton Hotel on Saturday.
It is a day Steve admits has been a long time coming after a tough few years following his prostate cancer diagnosis, in 2016.
The 59 year old was in agony with back pain and a scan revealed he had fractured his spine as the disease had spread to his bones.
Eighteen weeks of chemotherapy, long spells in hospital and no strength in his body, Steve was at crisis point.
“It was physically and emotionally draining and it was a very low moment in my life,” said Steve.
“I could barely walk, I was so weak and I could do nothing around the house.”
Sally moved in to help care for Steve and he started attending gym sessions at Countess Mountbatten Hospice in Southampton.
Gentle exercises progressed to more rigorous gym work as Steve began to build up his strength.
He also joined a new, all-male group at the Botley Road hospice, aimed at men with serious health conditions to come together to speak freely about their experiences.
More than 18 months on, Steve still attends the Build and Banter group most weeks.
The support of Countess Mountbatten has been invaluable to Steve, who, while his cancer is terminal, is looking ahead to a happy future.
His outlook on life and wish to ‘give something back’ is why wedding guests have been invited to donate to the hospice, instead of buying a gift.
“The hospice means a huge amount to both Sally and me,” said Steve, who has worked at Meggitt Avionics, Fareham, for nearly 40 years.
“I knew about Countess Mountbatten before I started going there but I didn’t know much. I was so surprised by how much it does.
“Sally and I have got everything we want and we would like to support Countess Mountbatten for all the work it does helping people like me, and many others through its different services.”
Steve takes 250 tablets a week and morphine twice a day but he is generally feeling well, taking part in parkrun most Saturdays with Sally, who is also raising funds for Countess Mountbatten Hospice in the Great South Run.
His surprise proposal was revealed on confetti inside a balloon, which he ‘accidentally’ popped while the couple were at home having a meal on Valentine’s Day this year.
“She was in tears after reading the message and rang everyone up to tell them.
“I should have done it sooner but we are finally getting married and we are looking forward to a great day.”
Countess Mountbatten chief executive Nigel Hartley said: “Everyone at Countess Mountbatten would like to wish Steve and Sally an amazing wedding on Saturday.
“We are really touched and thankful that they have chosen to support us on their special day.”