Maureen Salero had got to the age of 75 without any serious health problems. So she found it hard to take in when doctors told her she had breast cancer.
Now, a year after undergoing radiotherapy and a mastectomy, Maureen is rebuilding her life.
Meanwhile husband Pete and three friends have been inspired to lose weight and raise £5,000 for charity Breast Cancer Care.
Pete, 72, and Maureen first met 42 years ago, when Pete was a car salesman and Maureen an office worker at a garage in Gosport.
The pair clicked instantly and married in 1980, going on to run a successful engineering business.
After selling it, the couple from Worlds End, Denmead had been enjoying retirement until Maureen’s diagnosis hit them out of the blue.
Maureen says: ‘It really shook me because I’ve never had anything wrong at all in my life.
‘For that to suddenly happen, well I couldn’t believe it.
‘When I first found out I felt really bad, because when they told me that I had breast cancer I asked if I was going to be all right and they wouldn’t say anything.
‘They just told me to come back next week. I spent that whole week at home just thinking ‘‘oh no’’.
Pete, who has had health problems himself, was also badly affected by the news.
He says: ‘I was gutted for her. We worked very hard on our business and when we came to retire it turned out that I had this serious heart problem.
‘Then when we found out Maureen had the cancer it was just another whammy, another bang.’
Maureen had an agonising wait before her next hospital appointment. When she went back they told her she would more than likely be okay following a mastectomy.
After undergoing three weeks of radiotherapy and having the mastectomy in March last year, Maureen is now getting back to normal.
She will be going for a check-up at the end of this month and will continue to have yearly checks for five years.
The couple made the decision to sell their business shortly before Pete fell ill with heart problems.
At one stage, his life was in danger. He says his survival and recovery was down to the quick action of ambulance and hospital staff.
He says: ‘People infuriate me when they knock the hospitals because when you have a problem they’re there for you. They’re brilliant.’
Pete and three of his friends – Diana Rogerson, 59, Rami Hilmi, 45, and Cherry Speed, 41, began their sponsored slim on February 1.
Pete says: ‘I’ve done it for Maureen. It all started when a very good friend of mine called me fatty one morning. So I said ‘‘okay, we’ll try to lose some weight’’.’
The quartet decided to try to lose eight stone between them whilst raising £5,000, setting May 1 as their deadline.
Pete will also hold a charity music night on May 2, where he will be performing a variety of ’60s hits. He also hopes to raise money by selling From The Heart, his CD dedicated to Maureen.
Pete’s regular exercise and love of music stems from his heart problems, which left him needing a defibrillator.
He says: ‘I had trouble breathing because my heart takes off, so I had to find something to help me breathe easier.
‘A friend suggested singing lessons, so I decided to do that which helped a lot.’
Pete then decided to take singing exams and achieved distinctions.
It was around the same time, 10 years ago, that he started going to the gym.
He says: ‘I find that three days at the gym is invaluable. At eight in the morning you’re awake.
‘It’s very good for you. I’m still here and I’m not putting my slippers on yet. I will do my fundraising until I’m too old to do it.’
So far, the four friends have raised around £3,000 and lost around four stone between them.
Pete says: ‘I don’t know if we’re going to make eight stone or not, but were trying. It’s not easy.’
He and Maureen are getting back to normality following the ordeal they have been through over the past year.
They have been on day trips and are hoping to go on holiday in the near future.
Maureen has also been pursuing her hobby of quilting, which has helped her through the past year.
She says: ‘About six other people at quilting have had the same thing.
‘It’s nice to be able to talk to someone who’s had what you’ve had and you all talk about it and feel a bit better.’
Pete says: ‘We’ve got a very strong relationship.
‘The only real interest we’ve got in this life is each other. It’s made us stronger together.
‘We’ve had some trying moments and a few arguments about things, but we get through it and we’ve got some good friends.’
Maureen adds: ‘We live for today now. I don’t worry about what’s going to happen tomorrow.’
To see a video with this story, go to portsmouth.co.uk/video