Honeymoon helping hand

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Honeymooners: Phoebe and Connor Leenders at their hotel at the start of their trip

After nearly two years of devastating medical woes, Connor and Phoebe Leenders never thought a honeymoon was on the cards.

But they’re now spending four days in Queenstown after marrying last weekend, thanks to charity Race4Life.

It’s been a long road to the altar for the pair, who met in Canada in 2017.

It was there he discovered a lump in his armpit, which tests revealed was melanoma.

After spending some time in Phoebe’s native Australia, he was soon on a place back to New Zealand.

The cancer then spread to his head.

“What was already a dangerous situation turned into a very dangerous situation.”

What followed was a year of infections and treatments.

In May 2018, he began immunotherapy.

“They said ‘if it doesn’t work, you’re probably looking at three to six months’.”

It was around that time he decided he wanted to propose to Phoebe.

“I didn’t see any point waiting around any more, it was a bit of a euphoric moment in the hospital.”

Eight months later, treatment of his stage four cancer is continuing.

During their wedding planning, it was Phoebe’s mum who first came across Race4Life, a New Zealand charity which fulfills wishes for patients.

After meeting with charity founder Viv James, the wheels were in motion.

Race4Life covered everything from wedding dress hire to the cars, as well as taking care of the honeymoon.

“We weren’t going to do a honeymoon, it wasn’t feasible,” Phoebe says.

Now they’re in Queenstown, where they’re doing everything from a helicopter ride to relaxing in the Onsen hot pools.

“It restores your faith in humanity,” Phoebe says.