Adrian's legacy of generosity to 'wonderful' hospice as his partner pays touching tribute
The devastated partner of a Co Antrim man who lost his courageous battle against cancer has praised his determination and zest for life.
Adrian McAleese, originally from Ballymena but living in Dundonald, was given six months to live after being diagnosed with stage four lung cancer in October 2016.
The shock diagnosis came just months after his mother passed away.
A combination of radiotherapy and chemotherapy only slowed the progression of the disease, which had already spread to his lymph nodes, liver and bones. He died on Tuesday.
In a heartfelt tribute, his partner of 18 years Tim Gough praised the "sheer determination and zest for life" that enabled Adrian to exceed expectations and defy the odds.
"He fought with everything he had right until the end," he wrote on social media.
"Our lives are all the better for having known him - he will be sadly missed but never forgotten."
Tim said his partner's "humility, courage and strength" in such a difficult time had a positive impact on everyone who knew him.
"I am so proud to have had him as my partner, he was such an inspiration to me and to everyone who knew him," he added.
The former events manager at Titanic Belfast, who regularly wore a neck-brace to prevent a tumour at the top of his spine from dislodging his vertebrae, set up an online fundraising page before his death, which has raised over £4,000.
Adrian became passionate about helping hospice staff "continue their wonderful work looking after and supporting people like me" as a result of his own experience of palliative care. He previously opened up about how it empowered him to live a meaningful life despite having a "death sentence" hanging over him.
Speaking before he died, Adrian said the hospice team "very calmly walked into our lives in the shape of our nurse Ursula" and changed everything for the better.
"One moment I'd been in pain and fear and waiting to die, and the next, with the specialist help of the hospice team, my symptoms and pain were brought under control, my fears were dispelled and I was living again," he added.
He credited carers with transforming him from a "broken" and "lost" person and helping revive his dreams and enjoy the happiest year of his life.
"I'm living and loving and experiencing a wonderful life and Tim and I are busy ticking off wishes on our list and building memories," he said.
"Over the past year I have come to rely so heavily on the hospice staff and I will never be able to thank them enough for what they have done for me."
While celebrating what he knew would be his last Christmas, Adrian asked people to donate to the NI Hospice instead of sending Christmas cards and gifts.
Now he has made his final appeal to mourners attending a celebration of life service at Roselawn Crematorium which he planned in his final months.
Those attending the service have been encouraged to wear colourful attire to reflect Adrian's personality and donate money to the NI Hospice in lieu of flowers.
His brother David, who thanked everyone for their "kind words of sympathy and support", praised Adrian's care team.
"Their love and care towards Adrian over the past few months has been an inspiration and indication of true dedication to care and respect of the highest standard," he said.
Donations can be made via Adrian's JustGiving page at www.justgiving.com/fundraising/adrian-mcaleese1