Cancer patient marries long-lost love at Rochester General Hospital

September 11, 2017 07:01 PM

ROCHESTHER — There was an emotional wedding inside a hospital room at Rochester General Hospital on Monday.  A cancer patient married the love of his life, the wedding was 50 years in the making.

Back in the 1960s, as a Navy sailor, Stephen Walbert was stationed in Trinidad. He was a disc jockey at night and that’s how he met Jennifer Meyerink. The two fell in love but when Stephen’s tour was over he had to return to the United States. He left Jennifer his dog tags and a promise, “I said, darling... I'll be back one day for this,” he recalls. But the two lost touch, eventually Stephen and Jennifer married other people and had children. It wasn’t until both of their spouses passed away that they reconnected online. “I couldn't believe it when I got a message on Facebook,” Stephen says.

The two stayed in contact over the phone and email and two years ago decided it was time to meet again in person. The rest, they say, is history. “I was elated really... I never stopped loving him, I realized that,” Jennifer says.

But their love story doesn’t end in that fairy tale reunion. A year after they reconnected, Stephen was diagnosed with leukemia.

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On Monday, the pair was married. Because of Stephen’s health, the ceremony had to take place in his hospital room at RGH. Always one for a good time, Stephen channeled his favorite performer, Elvis, by wearing a suit similar to what the king wore during his performances. "That eternal flame, turned into a bonfire and it's still roaring today,” he said of his bride right before exchanging vows.

They listened to a song Stephen used to play for Jenny all those years ago and then a love 50 years in the making was sealed. "Darling, I should have done this a long long time ago,” Stephen said before placing a ring on Jenny’s finger and committing himself to her.

Around his neck, was also the dog tags he had given to Jenny all those years ago.  He says they now give the couple a sense of strength as they move toward an uncertain future. "Today is today, tomorrow is tomorrow... we'll see what happens tomorrow but tomorrow, I'll have a wife...I'll have her by my side and I couldn't be happier or luckier,” he tells News10NBC.

Stephen will decide later this week whether to continue treatment or go into hospice care.


Jennifer Lewke

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