A doting husband was so focused on ensuring his sick wife beat cancer that he didn’t realise the very same disease was killing him.
The caring 57-year-old Robert O’Brien only discovered he himself was gravely ill when his bile duct cancer had become terminal, just weeks ago.
The dad of two put his own health on the backburner, his devastated wife Philippa said, to make sure she was completely cared for.
But while the 51-year-old’s condition is getting better, Robert died on Sunday morning, his distraught family announced.
His daughters said: “It is with a heavy heart that we must tell you all, that our dad lost his battle with cancer this morning and died in the arms of his wife and daughters.
“Our dad was a great man and knowing he was so loved, carries us through.”
The keen fisherman took control when Philippa became seriously ill, suffering from a rare sarcoma cancer in the tissue and muscle of her hip and back of her thigh.
At the time, he was experiencing chest pains, but despite regular trips to the doctor, they never sent the Liverpool FC fan for proper check-ups.
Heartbroken Philippa, a former personal assistant, said: “He was so concerned about me. He was doing everything for me, absolutely everything.”
Buoyed by her husband’s support, she battled through chemotherapy, radiotherapy and a gruelling operation to clear the cancer.
But the family’s joy was short-lived when, weeks later, they were floored by the news Robert had the disease – and that it had spread throughout his body.
Philippa said if her husband, from Preston, Lancs, had not been so focused on nursing her back to health, he would have ensured GPs diagnosed his complaints.
She said: “I couldn’t get out of bed sometimes.
“Robert was feeding me, making sure I had my medication, doing everything in the house.
“He was definitely putting it to the back of his mind, because he was so concerned about me, making me feeling comfortable and helping me getting better.”
Daughter Emma, 28, a mental health nurse, said her dad had been planning a final romantic gesture on a bucket list of aims before his death. He wanted to visit the city park where he proposed and his children, Emma and Lauren, 36, talked of buying him a ring so he could once again pop the question.