American Foundation for Equal Rights

Marriage News Blog

Surviving Together: Wes and Andre’s Love Story

AFER’s Love Stories series tells the stories of couples who are waiting to get married. If you are a gay and lesbian couple who is planning to get married, tell us your story and you could be featured.

Andre Sanchez was living his dream. He had a great job in San Francisco as a regional marketing coordinator for a big name entertainment group and had moved in with his boyfriend, Wes McGaughey.

The dream life was shaken in 2010 when he was diagnosed with a rare spinal cord tumor that left him disabled and jobless. Luckily, Wes was there to support him.

“I was having a lot of pain associated in my neck, back and arms,” Andre recalls. After describing the numbness, tingling and burning he was feeling, the doctor suggested he get an MRI. “The next day I got a call—they had found a mass in my neck. It was like a punch in the gut. I was frightened because it wasn’t just about me anymore, it was going to change Wes’s life, too,” he continues.

Andre’s treatment came in the form of two surgeries. In the first, doctors took a biopsy of the tumor. Three months (and many tests) later, the tumor was finally removed in the second surgery. However, when they removed the tumor his spinal cord was damaged, leaving him numb from the chest down, with balance issues and severe chronic pain.

“I’m still coming to terms with it,” describes Wes. “The second surgery was when it really started to hit me.  It has taken so long to accept it.” Andre says that he couldn’t have made it through such an ordeal without Wes’ positive attitude. “We are grateful for what we have been given,” says Wes.

The Cost

The couple feels truly blessed to have made it through Andre’s cancer. Soon Andre will be starting an exclusive pain management program at Stanford University Medical Center that will hopefully improve his physical ability. The cost of surgeries, doctor visits and physical therapy have taken their toll.

“When this first happened, we weren’t married or domestic partners. His first surgery was through his company’s health insurance, and it was hell,” explains Wes. “There are serious financial issues. The health care costs are very expensive. We ended up spending the money we saved for our dream wedding on his treatment.”

“Even though we survived it,” they conclude, “it changed our lives forever – and we wondered, what had we waited for? We didn’t need a fairy tale wedding. We just needed each other and our families. Time waits for no one. Now we don’t care if we get married in jeans at City Hall. We love each other, that’s all that matters.”

Dream Wedding

Wes and Andre want to get married because of the love they share and the people they value.

“I want what my parents have,” says Andre. “I would really like for everything to be equal and for the next generation to not have to go through what we have been through.”

Wes continues, “I want people to know that we are just like they are. My relationship is no different than anyone else! I imagined my wedding growing up too, I was just imagining myself standing next to another person in a tuxedo.”

Hopefully, their dream will soon come true.