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Man Tells Fiancée She Can Back Out After He Loses Leg, Ear and More in Chemical Spill. She Refuses (Exclusive)

"She makes life worth living," Preston Cobb tells PEOPLE

<p>Courtesy Tanesha Cobb </p> Preston and Tanesha Cobb say "I do" from the burn unit of Doctors Hospital of Augusta

Courtesy Tanesha Cobb

Preston and Tanesha Cobb say "I do" from the burn unit of Doctors Hospital of Augusta

Last summer, just 22 days before his wedding, Preston Cobb was badly burned in a chemical spill at work. Lying in a hospital bed, he told his fiancée he would understand if she didn’t want to go forward with the wedding.

“I wouldn’t blame her,” says Preston Cobb, 34. “She looked at me like I was crazy.”

Tanesha Oglesby said she wasn’t going anywhere.

“I was just thankful that he was still alive,” Tanesha, 33, tells PEOPLE. “It doesn’t change the person he is inside. It doesn’t change the love that he shows me every single day.”

With the help of the nursing staff, the couple kept their wedding date — July 22, 2023 — and got married in the hospital. "That day showed me that true love never fails, it will always come through," Preston says.

Related: Nurse Held Conjoined Twin's Hand After She Was Born. 22 Years Later She Officiated Her Wedding (Exclusive)

The Tacoa, Ga. couple has known each other as far back as they can remember — in fact, her uncle and his aunt are married.

“I’ve always had a crush on her,” Preston says, but he thought she was out of his league.

For more on Preston and Tanesha's love story, pick up the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, or subscribe here.

In April 2020, he started messaging her on social media. “She kept friend-zoning me,” he says. “She finally gave me a chance, and we’ve been rocking ever since.”

And on Sept. 24, 2002, they got engaged in front of friends and family.

Preston and Tanesha Cobb at the Trap Museum in 2022
Preston and Tanesha Cobb at the Trap Museum in 2022

Tanesha was at the airport boarding a flight to her bachelorette trip to the Essence Festival in New Orleans when Preston called and said he was an accident at work.

“I knew he wasn’t okay and that he needed me,” recalls Tanesha, a program manager for a non-profit.

The extent of his injuries was severe.

He lost his left leg, all the toes on his right foot and all his fingers on both hands except his thumbs. Additionally, his right leg was burned to the knee, both his hands and arms were burned and he lost a piece of his ear.

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Preston told Tanesha he was not the same man she agreed to marry — and he offered to release her from the engagement. "I knew it was going to be a very long road for recovery," he says. "This is not how I imagined us spending the rest of our lives together."

But Tanesha stood by him, telling him that this accident didn't change how much she loved him and wanted to be with him.

“She makes life worth living,” says Preston, who has had more than 40 surgeries to date. “God knew what he was doing when he put us together. Thank you God. You have literally placed an angel to take care of me and be with me.”

Do you have a sweet story the world needs to know? Send the details to love@people.com for a chance to be featured in Real-Life Love, People.com's series dedicated to sharing extraordinary connections and heartfelt gestures.

The couple plan to renew their vows this summer in front of their friends and family on their first anniversary.

“He’s an amazing man,” Tanesha says. “He shows me a love that I’ve never experienced.”

Related: Couple Whips Up Wedding in a Week After Groom's Mom Received Stage 4 Cancer Diagnosis (Exclusive)

As for the future, the couple — who together have three children from previous relationships — hope to have a baby together and expand their family.

“As long as we have love, we will be okay,” says Preston, who also hopes to be able to give his wife a ride on the back of a motorcycle again.

His wife emphatically agrees.

“Regardless of what comes our way, with the love that we have for each other, it’s strong enough to withstand it, it’s strong enough to get us through,” Tanesha says. “Even in the hard times, that’s what we hold onto: The love we have for each other. ..Everything we’ve gone through, it just makes us stronger.”

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