When Brian Neal, the strength and conditioning coach for Mississippi State University baseball, couldn’t get an appointment with his regular physician, family nurse practitioner Amber Robertson agreed to see him.
“My first impression of him was, ‘Gah, he’s arrogant,’” recalls Amber, 33.
As for Brian’s first impression: “I couldn’t stop thinking about her,” he says. “Her smile, her voice, her personality.”
So, three weeks later, Brian, 33, sent Amber a handwritten letter, thanking her for taking care of him. He enclosed tickets to a Mississippi State baseball game—and his phone number. Amber appreciated the sweet gesture, and soon after they went on their first date.
“I definitely knew after the first date that I wanted a second one,” says Amber.
The two begin seeing each other a few times a week, taking it slow, becoming friends first. Then, in 2015, after almost two years of dating, Amber was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Brian became Amber’s rock, her source of strength and comedic relief. But the trials continued: As Amber began her battle, her mother was also diagnosed with breast cancer. Then Amber’s sister found out that she, too, carried the same genetic mutation.
“I tried to break up with Brian,” says Amber. “I felt like he didn’t ask for all of this.”
But Brian refused to leave. He stayed by Amber’s side.
“I saw her fight, her toughness, her resolve, her relentless desire, her undeniable faith, and her humbleness to inspire and help others who were affected by cancer after her,” says Brian. “I knew then, without reservation, she would be my wife. I was so excited to propose. I couldn’t sleep for weeks.”
On New Year’s Day, Brian woke up at 4:30 a.m., anticipating the moment he would ask Amber to be his wife. He rehearsed his proposal, downed multiple cups of coffee, and watched ESPN SportsCenter before calming his nerves with a few episodes of “Saved by the Bell.” Then, at 10:30 a.m., Amber came downstairs, exhausted from a round of chemo.
Dressed in a shirt that said “Unstoppable,” Brian gave Amber a hand-written letter and matching shirt. Then he dropped to one knee.
“Together we are Team Unstoppable,” Brian said. “I want 2016 to be a better year, and it is going to be the best year ever. Will you marry me?”
Overwhelmed with joy, Amber said yes. And with the help of their wedding planner, Jackie Fogartie, the couple began planning a fall wedding in Charlotte.
Nine months later, on a perfect day in September, Amber, a native of Columbus, Miss., and Brian, a Forest, Va. native, gathered with their closest friends and family in their favorite city to exchange vows at The Charlotte City Club.
“It was such a celebration,” says Amber. “When I think about my wedding, I think of all of our family and friends who were there for us—who held our hands, wiped our tears and held us up during our hard time. Our wedding was the happiest moment.”
The icing on the cake? Amber has been cancer free since February.
OTHER VENDORS: Ceremony, reception venue, catering: Charlotte City Club | Wedding planner: Jackie Fogartie Events | Hair and makeup: Kymm McLayne at Who’s the Fairest? | Gown and veil: bride’s mother’s from 1977 | Gown designer: Charlotte Reed of Just Sew Me in Vernon, Ala. helped modernize the dress | Bride’s shoes: Macy’s | Shoe designer: Nina | Bridesmaid dresses: Kay’s Kreations | Bridesmaid dresses’ designer: Morilee | Tuxedos: Jos. A. Bank | Invitations: The American Wedding | Music, entertainment: Split Second Sound | Cinematography: Tricia Coyne Photography | Rental providers: Party Reflections | Transportation provider: Rose Chauffeured Transportation | Engagement ring: Boone and Sons Jewelers in McLean, Va. | Engagement ring designer: Ritani | Wedding rings: Boone & Sons Jewelers (hers), Amazon, designed by Kings Will (him) | Wedding ring designer: King Will | Clergy: Brother Dick Daily from Goode, Va. | Rehearsal dinner, wedding night hotel: Renaissance Charlotte SouthPark | Bridal registry: Belk, Bed Bath & Beyond, myregistry.com