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New Jersey Couple Marries as Cancer Threatens to Tear Them Apart
By GEETIKA RUDRA
A New Jersey couple who got married after learning cancer may cut short their time together are hoping their love will beat the odds.
Melanie Gaskins, 46, and Pierre Freeman, 51, of Laurel Springs were married after doctors told them that Freeman, who lives with an inoperable brain tumor, has only one more year to live.
"We just don't accept that," Gaskins told ABC News. "He was diagnosed in 2008 with a brain tumor that was the size of a plum tomato and he's still here from that. So I just can't accept that."
The couple, who Gaskins says were both foodies before Freeman was given a feeding tube, met, fittingly, at a barbecue in 2005.
"He jumped up and asked if he could get me a plate of food," Gaskins recalled. "But we got to talking and I never got that plate."
So Freeman visited Gasksins at her home the next day with food from the previous night, which included a dish of fried alligator.
"It was his attention to detail that got me," Gaskins said. "I just thought he was a big teddy bear. He's physically in stature big, but he is so incredibly sweet."
The couple were together for one year when Freeman started to rapidly lose his vision.
"He started dropping weight," Gaskins said. "Doctors said he was diabetic."
But when Freeman's vision continued to worsen, Gaskins told him to go to the hospital. There, a doctor found a tumor in Freeman's brain so advanced it could not be removed.
"That word, inoperable, I couldn't understand what he meant by that. And I've been to college and graduated law school. It freaked me out. It was unimaginable," Gaskins said.
But Gaskins says it that it was Freeman's strength that carried the couple through difficult times.
"He is so incredibly strong," Gaskins said. "He even drove himself to his chemo appointments. I was there for major appointments and whenever we got results, but for every appointment he drove himself."
"He is my superman," Gaskins said.
Indeed, at their wedding last week in Philadelphia, Freeman wore a superman t-shirt and socks beneath his suit.
As for the future, Gaskins has nothing but excitement.
"We used to be real foodies, but not anymore since Pierre got the feeding tube. Now we want to travel. He's really excited about the possibility to travel. We want to go to Italy, so we've been planning a way to make it happen."
In the meantime, Gaskins expects they'll be together for longer than doctors think.
"It's just not his time. It's not his time. He has something to teach everybody, how to grow and how to overcome your problems even when you think they are insurmountable."