Annie, 62, met her beloved husband, Robert Aaron, Sr. "Bobby", while visiting her sister after she graduated from college. She recalls the night they met, "I remember he was tall and me being 4'10, I checked out the shoes and came on up to the face and I said my gosh, he's gorgeous and well dressed." Annie and Bobby knew there was an instant and special connection between them from the beginning; this was a connection that would carry them through the good and difficult times.
Annie felt many different emotions the day they learned of Bobby's lung cancer diagnosis. "I had to pull myself together because I wanted so much for Bobby to feed off my strength and maybe that would give him strength to fight this off." Annie had experienced her own health issues years before. She underwent a quadruple bypass surgery in 1999 and Bobby never left her side. Now the tables were turned and Annie wanted nothing more than to be strong for her husband.
Bobby had a wonderful support system of friends, family and a team of caring physicians from the beginning. "It was such a good team of doctors; you know, I feel like God has had angels around us all during the time since we met because we just felt like there was a blanket of protection around us."
While Annie did not have previous knowledge of clinical trials, she finds comfort in knowing together they explored every option for Bobby. Annie recalled when Bobby had surgery the doctor discussed the pros and cons associated with entering a clinical trial. Annie reflects on their treatment decisions saying, "I go back and think about the steps in which all of this happened, you know, and what was put around us including Moffitt, friends and the doctors and nurses and then that sort of gets rid of the fear or the thought of if we did the right thing."
Annie has advice for other caregivers. She wants to tell them, "Don't let their love for their loved one dwindle; show as much love and to continuously ask God for strength; love never gives up; faith, hope and patience never fail all of us handle things in a different way but develop some kind of system that will help to see you through this."
Bobby passed away on July 16th after a long battle with cancer at home with Annie by his side. The song Annie played at his funeral, Wind Beneath My Wings was the perfect choice, "he's always been the wind beneath my wings and I will always love my husband and I thank God for those 36 years. I have many fond memories and I have enough that will block out the bad ones so I don't worry about it; I just go on I have wonderful memories all around me".