A young bride has told how her groom delayed having vital medical tests for lung cancer so he could get married – only to die in her arms just weeks after the wedding.
Doctors advised Jamie Roper, 46, to undergo a biopsy after he suffered a hacking cough and repeated bouts of pneumonia, classic symptoms of lung cancer.
But Mr Roper, of Long Stratton, Norfolk, was adamant he would first marry his bride-to-be Jen, now 30, and did not have the tests.
But on returning from his wedding in the Mediterranean, the cancer took hold quickly and six weeks later he died in hospital.
He had told doctors if his condition worsened he did not want to be resuscitated.
His last words to his new wife were, “I love you”.
Encouraging other people not to delay vital tests, Mrs Roper said: “We were always hopeful that he’d be all right then I realised it was not to be.
“In the run-up to the wedding Jamie was in and out of the doctors. He had felt poorly for a month, but we didn’t think it was serious.
“We weren’t worried. He was told he had a chest infection, then pneumonia and he went for scans. Then in September – on the day before my final dress fitting – Jamie was told that he might have lung cancer.
“We were told he would need more biopsies to confirm this but we decided to stay positive. We decided to delay the tests and get married.
“We hoped that we’d get a few years together at the very least.”
On 15 October 2011 the couple drove to Southampton before boarding a ship - set to cruise round the Mediterranean - which they married on.
“It was lovely,” Mrs Roper – who met her husband two years earlier at work – recalled.
“But all the time I thought something might be wrong. As we said the words, ‘In sickness and in health’, it really hit home.”
Mrs Roper said she and Mr Roper made the best of the next fortnight.
“Jamie struggled with his breathing but otherwise we had an amazing time,” she said. “But a cloud hung over us.”
A fortnight after they returned home Mr Roper went to Norfolk and Norwich Hospital for a biopsy. He was kept in hospital because of complications and after ten days allowed home.
Two days later – a month after they’d returned from their wedding – he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
He was sent back to hospital.
Mrs Roper said: “Surgeons confirmed he had lung cancer and a tear in his bowel, which he’d need surgery for. He had surgery straight away but afterwards his heart rate picked up and he started gasping for breath.
“I was told that before the surgery Jamie had been asked if his lungs failed if he wanted to be resuscitated.
“He’d said no. I told him I loved him and he tried to say it back but didn’t get the words out.”
He died on 29 November 2011 in his new wife’s arms.
After his funeral that December Mrs Roper struggled to cope and kept a note he had written her, pinned to the fridge for months.
It read, “Hi honey I bloody love you!! Xxxx.”
She read it over and over again and when it started fading she decided to have the words tattooed on her left hip.
She also had a ring made, containing some of his ashes and the words, “Love you forever”, engraved on the band.
She said: “They were the words Jamie used to sign off every text.”
The NHS said: “Lung cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer. More than 41,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK.
“There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer, but many people with the condition will eventually develop symptoms including a persistent cough, coughing up blood, persistent breathlessness, unexplained tiredness and weight loss and an ache or pain when breathing or coughing.”