A terminally-ill dad who won a seven-month battle against homelessness died in his wife’s arms after telling her "I love you".
Wayne Barton, 36, from Cheshunt, Hertfordshire, was diagnosed with oesophageal and liver cancer in April 2016 and told the condition was incurable two months later.
To make matters worse, his wife-to-be Lisa, 37, had to fight for their future after an eviction notice in March last year left them on the brink of homelessness with five-year-old daughter Bryony-May.
Wayne started losing his speech in his final days and was only able to say "I love you" to Lisa, who held him with his mum and brother as he died at 8pm on January 27.
Lisa, who cared for Wayne full-time, will bury her husband on Valentine’s Day , the Hertfordshire Mercury reports.
"He just went. It was me, his mum and brother and it was so sad to see but he was in no more pain, it just went away at once," she said.
"I was just talking to him telling him that I hope I made him proud and that Bryony-May will be OK. We were all saying ‘we are here’ and telling each other ‘I love you’ a lot.
"He is just my handsome man, I love him to bits. Bryon-May was the apple of his eye and I see so much of him in her now, she will carry on his legacy.
"His funeral is on Valentine’s Day, there just wasn’t any other day available until mid-March and I wasn’t going to wait that long.
"But I feel like this is his way of spending one last Valentine’s Day with me."
Lisa lay next to Wayne’s body for the rest of the night, admitting she "just couldn’t leave him".
Bryony-May, who was asleep in the next room at the time, was taken to her grandmother’s house to keep her from seeing her dad’s body.
After the undertakers took him away the next day, Lisa led Bryony-May into Wayne’s room to see his empty bed and told her "I’m so sorry, daddy is gone".
The five-year-old has been "distraught" and tells Lisa "please can you find new medicine to bring him back" and asks "why did they take him away?"
"Last night was the first night she slept comfortably since then," Lisa said.
"I need to be strong for her, she needs me. I tried to protect her as much as I could and took her to school but she saw a lot and saw her dad very sick.
“She would help me look after Wayne and would put gloves on for him, she just wanted to help her daddy. On his last day she sat with me and stroked his arm.
"Even though he couldn’t speak I know he knew who was there."
Despite his terminal illness, Wayne took Lisa to stay in the junior suite of a Hilton hotel in east London last March, where he then asked her to "do the honour of being my wife".
The couple had hoped to tie the knot in time but their wedding dreams were almost dashed after an eviction notice in the same month put them under the constant threat of homelessness.
Despite Broxbourne Council promising the family a two-bedroom house in June, Lisa had to keep all their belonging’s packed in boxes as they waited four more months for new accommodation.
They could have been moved into temporary accommodation at a moment’s notice and Lisa described the wedding as a "nice dream" while she struggled to care for Wayne and raise Bryony-May.
She told the Mercury in July: "I have a prolapsed disc in my back and often sleep on the couch to give Wayne space in our small flat. It’s a struggle to go up the stairs to our flat.
"When I am not looking after him I am on the school run and trying to raise my girl. This stress is making everything so much worse."
The story behind Wayne’s illness
Wayne first began to feel some discomfort in December 2015, when he had trouble swallowing and suffered from acid reflux.
GPs initially assured him the condition was caused by stress and, despite his repeated complaints and several appointments at nearby surgeries, the full extent of his illness was not known for several months.
Wayne was finally diagnosed with oesophageal cancer on April 4, 2016. On May 5, he then found out through a chance conversation he also had liver cancer.
Lisa said a nurse at Princess Alexandra Hospital referred to cancer in his liver "as if he already knew".
This was despite a PET scan at University College London Hospital (UCLH) identifying the cancer at least one month prior.
UCLH issued a statement apologising "unreservedly" to Wayne and admitting their care of him "has not been good enough".
A spokeswoman said: "We apologise unreservedly to Mr Barton and his loved ones.
"We have undertaken an investigation. We have shared the findings across our radiology department so that we can learn from this incident and to reduce the risk of it happening again.
"Our care of Mr Barton has not been good enough and we will be reiterating our regret and apologies to him in writing."
After reading about her plight in the Mercury and in the national news, Hanbury Manor stepped forward to host their wedding for free.
A handful of charities also offered to help with various parts of the wedding and Lisa said it was an "amazing day".
"I am so glad we got married in time. Bryony-May looked like a little princess and she got to see her mum and dad so happy" she said.
"Wayne told my dad how proud he is of me and that I am amazing, that really meant a lot to me.
"In sickness and in health – those words mean the world to me."
The wedding, originally pencilled in for December 30, had to be pushed forward to November 19 as doctors feared his condition would be too bad by Christmas.
As predicted, Wayne’s condition took a turn for the worse and he was readmitted to hospital on December 27.
A few days later he was told it was now just a matter of weeks.
Lisa said: "When we told him he said he wanted to spend his last days at home and not in a hospice and I wanted to look after him myself too.
"He was in complete denial, right up until his last breath.
"He was 36, he was on so many painkillers and drugs and he was so poorly that he couldn’t even drink water by himself anymore.
"He must have been wondering ‘what’s happening to me?’
"But the strength and positivity of that man was incredible and now he lives on in his daughter. I see so much of him in her through her expressions and in the way she acts."
Wayne and Lisa, who would have been celebrating 11 years together this May, were immediately drawn to each other when they first met.
Lisa was working behind the bar at the Black Horse pub in Enfield when she saw "just a fit guy" Wayne and the pair hit it off straight away.
They moved in together three months later and lived an active life as a couple, with regular trips abroad and frequent gatherings with close friends.
The couple had their "best holiday ever" on a 2011 trip to Mexico, when Lisa found out she was pregnant with Bryony-May.
They had always dreamed of going back to Cancun again, this time with Bryony-May and Lisa has not given up hope on one day taking her daughter to swim with the dolphins there.
Lisa said she has "no idea" what the future holds for them but said for now she is taking it "one day at a time".
On Monday , Wayne’s equipment and special bed were removed from the house and Lisa has not decided what will happen with the rest of Wayne’s belongings.
"It wasn’t nice seeing his equipment go, I want to keep a lot of his things for Bryony-May and I’ll want to keep hold of a lot too," she said.
"His room will be redecorated now and Bryony-May will move there."
Lisa has found Bryony-May some unlikely comfort after coming across a post on Facebook advertising a kitten for sale.
She bought the pet just days before Wayne passed away and she has been a "huge help" for Bryony-May.
The cat is "the spitting image" of Wayne’s old cat, Mimi, and was named after her.
Such is her resemblance that Wayne thought Lisa had brought him his cat back and he even caressed Mimi with his cheek just like he used to.
A popular man, Wayne was often visited by friends and family in his final weeks and was swamped by messages of support.
He supported Spurs and enjoyed spending afternoons in the pub with his friends to watch their games.
Lisa described him as an "active and masculine man" and said he spent a lot of time in the gym and one day wanted to be an MMA fighter.
She said: "He was a lovely dad. He would spend so much time with Bryon-May and sing with her. We would go out as a family all the time.
"Our lives completely changed when he became ill and he could only manage going on a walk. It must have been awful for him, a 36-year-old not to be able to spend time with his little girl."
Lisa, whose mum died when she was five months pregnant with Bryony-May on Christmas Eve in 2011, added she "likes to believe" in life after death and is happy Wayne is no longer in pain.
"I know that he is in peace now and between him and my mum I know they will protect us," she said.