A loved-up couple have said their diagnosis of a devastating disease was the worst and best thing that ever happened to them – after they met in hospital and fell in love.
While most couple meet a bar, through friends or on internet dating websites, Stainland lovebirds Daniel and Hannah Blamires met at St James' Hospital in Leeds whilst undergoing treatment for their brain tumours.
And ten years on the pair are celebrating Valentine's Day as a married couple, both cancer-free and happier than ever.
“Having brain tumours is the worst thing that’s ever happened to us but it also brought us together,” said Hannah.
Daniel added: “We feel blessed that something so positive – finding our soul mates – has come out of our ordeals.
“We love married life - we just enjoy being together and cherish every second of each other’s company.”
Daniel's first contact with Hannah was indirect after he had noticed her mother nervously waiting for Hannah in a hospital waiting room.
He said: "She looked so anxious, I asked her if she was all right and if she was there for a scan.
“She told me she was waiting for her daughter, Hannah, who was having a scan and was worried because it was taking longer than usual.”
Daniel did his best to reassure her by saying that sometimes if you moved, the scan had to be done again.
“Then she asked if I minded telling her why I was there,” said Daniel, "I told her that I was having a scan for my brain tumour and that I’d been diagnosed in 2003.
“She said that Hannah didn’t know anyone else with a brain tumour and found it difficult to talk about it to anyone.”
That struck a chord with Daniel and he offered his contact details so Hannah could get in touch if she wanted to chat.
Right on cue, Hannah came out and Daniel’s first glimpse of his future wife was in a green hospital gown.
“I had a quick glance at him and wondered who he was,” said Hannah.
Later in the week, she texted Daniel and they arranged an outing to a leisure centre that weekend.
From then on, they saw each other every week, initially as friends.
“Meeting Daniel felt like a weight lifting off my shoulders,” said Hannah.
“I could finally talk to someone who’s been through the same experiences – who knew the ‘scanxiety’ of waiting for results what it felt like to wear a radiotherapy mask.
“I loved how kind and caring he was and he made me laugh, too, we both love Peter Kay!”
One evening after they’d known each other for a couple of months, Daniel gave Hannah a kiss on the cheek when he dropped her home.
“I had feelings for her but I was worried I’d ruined our friendship,” said Daniel, “I drove round the corner and sat in my car thinking, ‘Oh no, what have I done?’”
Later, he texted her, saying; “Hope you didn’t mind me kissing you.”
“I didn’t – I’d fallen for him, too!” said Hannah.
They got together in November 2009 and engaged in 2015, after Daniel proposed during a romantic weekend in Whitby.
“He’d told me we were going away for my birthday,” said Hannah, "When he asked me to marry him, I squealed, oh my god! Yes!”
Having battled cancer as a seven-year-old, Hannah has annual scans and in 2008, an MRI revealed she had two low-grade (non-cancerous) meningioma tumours at the back of her brain. She had gamma knife radiosurgery in 2013 to stop them growing.
In January 2016, another scan found a tumour on her optic nerve and she is waiting for a date for key hole surgery.
“I have a lot of long-term effects from my tumours and treatment,” said Hannah.
“My memory is terrible and I also suffer dizziness, headaches and bouts of depression.”
Her fatigue means she is unable to work, but volunteers at Eureka!, where Daniel works after his tumour was wiped out after five long weeks of radiotherapy.
They got married on July 11 2016 in a stunning ceremony at St Wilfred’s Church in Monk Fryston.
“When I saw Hannah walking down the aisle I just said ‘Wow!” said Daniel, "before I met her, I never thought I’d find someone who totally understood me and what I’ve been through – but it felt so right.
Hannah added: “I felt safe knowing Daniel was going to be my husband – my soul mate and best friend rolled into one.
“He completes me.”
After their Italian cruise honeymoon, they settled down to married life in Halifax.
Now Daniel wants to help children and young people open up about their emotions and has taken his Misfit dolls – which he designed when he went back to university after his treatment - into schools to help children express their feelings.
“Each doll represents an emotion – like sad, angry and scared - as they gave me an outlet to express my feelings,” said Daniel.
“I want to help others too, especially children and young people, and hope one day to have them professionally manufactured.”
The couple are sharing their story to help The Brain Tumour Charity raise awareness about brain tumours – the biggest cancer killer of children and under-40s in the UK.
“We want to help The Brain Tumour Charity raise awareness, particularly that early diagnosis is vital to save more lives and reduce disabilities,” said Daniel.
Sarah Lindsell, The Brain Tumour Charity’s chief executive, said; “We are delighted for Daniel and Hannah and wish them every happiness in their marriage.
“And we are so grateful to them for helping us to raise awareness about brain tumours, which kills more of our children and young people in the UK than any other cancer – yet research is woefully underfunded.
“Our research strategy, A Cure Can’t Wait, aims to double survival rate within 10 years and halve the harm brain tumours have on quality of life.”