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Widower pays tribute to wife who died of cancer on their one-year anniversary

“What you gave to me in 20 months is more than I could ever even have dreamt of having in a thousand lifetimes.” (Photo: Facebook/Jake Coates)

A grieving husband has written a heartbreaking Facebook tribute to his late wife on what would have been their one-year wedding anniversary.

Jake Coates’s wife, Emmy, died from thyroid cancer three months ago. In his post, Jake recounted how amazing he felt the night before they exchanged their vows last September.

“…this time a year ago I couldn’t sleep,” Jake wrote in his post on Saturday. “I was way too excited that I was going to get to marry this girl, the love of my life, in the morning. There wasn’t a day that went by when we were together that I didn’t pinch myself — why someone like you would choose someone like me. But I’ll forever be grateful that you did. We made the best team. Miss you more than ever my gorgeous girl. Xxxxx”

Jake and Emmy met nearly two decades ago when they were both 11 and quickly became childhood sweethearts. At 13, Jake playfully nicknamed Emmy his “lobster,”  and by the age of 16 they started dating. They dated for three years — but similar to most childhood romances, they decided to go their separate ways after high school.

It wasn’t until October 2015, 10 long years after being apart, that Jake and Emmy reconnected and discovered that the spark was still there. Jake was working as a doctor in Australia, while Emmy was working as a primary-school teacher in London. They negotiated the time difference and FaceTimed each other daily while traveling back and forth between continents.

The couple made plans to spend their life together back in the U.K.

“A life we had always dreamed of together was finally coming true,” Emmy wrote on her blog. “Unbeknownst to me, Jake had planned to propose to me on a holiday to the Philippines in March [2016]. However it was the day we were due to travel that I received the heartbreaking news that the thyroid cancer had spread and I was advised not to fly.”

Despite following a healthy lifestyle, Emma was diagnosed with medullary thyroid cancer on March 22, 2016. With only 300 cases diagnosed in the U.K. over the past 12 years, Emmy’s was one of the youngest ever reported. The cancer reached stage 4 and had spread to her spine, lungs, liver, and bones — she experienced debilitating chest pain due to a fractured rib caused by the cancer.

“It was at this point we learnt that the disease had become so advanced that it is now unfortunately incurable,” she wrote.

But Jake was with her every step of the way — he didn’t let the heartbreaking news derail his plans to ask the love of his life to marry him.

“Jake promptly proposed the next day, in bed with a cup of tea … it was perfect!” Emmy gushed. “Given the circumstances and a new outlook on life, we thought ‘why wait’ and I will be walking down the aisle to meet him on Sept. 3rd, 2016.”

Emmy’s health continued to deteriorate, but the couple enjoyed every precious moment together, even embarking on a 2,000-kilometrer tandem bike ride from London to Copenhagen to raise money for the Royal Marsden hospital, where Emmy was being treated.

“I was needing to empty my bowel every 15 minutes, day and night, which was having a severe impact on my quality of life, including extreme fatigue, a fissured and blistered anus, weight loss and erratic menstruation,” she wrote.

“Although all of this news has been a shock and challenging at times, it has also made me realize how important and precious every day is and to enjoy and treasure every moment.”

They fulfilled their dream and exchanged vows that September.

On their wedding day, Jake said he “bawled his eyes out” trying to tell Emmy how proud he was of her and of how she had managed to keep smiling throughout her ordeal.

“You, my girl, are simply incredible.”

In late June, Emmy lost her battle with cancer.

“What you gave to me in 20 months is more than I could ever even have dreamt of having in a thousand lifetimes,” Jake wrote in a blog post. “Who you are to me … and who you are and what you have become to so many, makes me prouder than I ever thought possible.”

A fundraising page was set up in honor of Emmy and has so far raised close to $185,000 for the Royal Marsden hospital, the institute where Emmy was treated.

As Jake recounted, Emmy’s life has had far-reaching effects, even after death.

“I have had people emailing me every day telling me that their loved ones have been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and because of you, they are able to cope with it that little bit better. That they themselves may have been given months to live, but because of you they have made peace and have realized what to prioritize. That they have left abusive partners, changed their jobs, taken up a hobby, chased a diagnosis, walked into an exam or interview more confidently or just told themselves to ‘get a grip’ and embrace the positives in their own lives because of YOU … you are a shining beacon … a guiding light … to more people than you can ever have imagined.”

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