You see this beautiful young woman sitting with a wide grin on a hospital bed? Her is Emmy. Emmy Collett. She was young with big plans, about to get married to her high school sweetheart, Jake.
But she found herself in the hospital with a serious illness. And it all started with a neck massage that her fiance gave her one day.
You can say that when Jake Coates and Emmy Collett met, it was love at first sight. The childhood sweethearts met in grammar school when they were just 11 years old.
Naturally, their relationship changed over time, going through breakups and distance, but their bond was always deep. And this bond would eventually become a tragic love story.
A Deep Bond
As the lovebirds grew up, the bond deepened and their connection was undeniable. Emmy spoke about the early stages of their relationship: “When we were 16 we finally sought the courage to fully admit our feelings for each other and we dated for three years.”
As it goes with many high school sweethearts, once the process of choosing which college to go to after graduating starts, the relationship can end. The two ended up splitting up.
And they had no idea what their future would hold.
They Went Separate Ways
Jake and Emmy got accepted into different colleges and they decided to split up and go separate ways. Emmy remembers the note that Jake wrote her when they were still together.
The note said: “You are my everything and if you still can put up with me, I will marry you one day.” So although they broke up, they managed to keep in touch over the next few years.
10 Years Later
10 years after their post-high school split, the two found themselves falling back in love with each other. And they started dating again in their late 20s.
But their relationship wasn’t easy and had its ups and downs. Jake was working as a doctor in Sydney, Australia, and Emmy was teaching in London, England. Therefore, they had to maintain a relationship at a distance of 10,000 miles apart.
Would they manage to work it out?
With the Help of Face Time
Like all the families and lovers who live far away from each other, good old Facetime comes to the rescue. The couple was able to make their relationship work, despite the distance, with FaceTime.
After some time, it came to a point that Jake knew he had to do something to make their relationship more official. And By 2016, he knew that it was time to keep the promise he made on the note he wrote to Emmy all those years ago.
Planning to Propose
Jake had it all planned out. He wanted to propose to Emmy on a cliff during a trip to the Philippines. It would be epic and what a way to start their lives together!
But as they say, nothing goes as planned. Something ended up happening that changed everything and the courses of their lives forever.
And you won’t believe what it is that started it all.
It Started with a Neck Massage
Emmy flew to Australia to see Jake and one day they went to the beach. The day was long and Emmy asked Jake to rub her neck. Naturally, Jake was happy to do it, but didn’t expect what would happen next.
“We were [sitting in a] restaurant on a Sunday afternoon—a really sunny, beautiful day—and I just put my hands around her neck from behind and I knew straight away [something was wrong]. My blood ran cold,” Jake said.
While giving Emmy a neck massage, Jake found a massive lump on her neck. And he didn’t want to scare her. “You don’t want to worry someone so I didn’t shout ‘Oh my God, Emmy, why didn’t you tell me about this’ or anything,” he said.
“I just said very calmly that she needed to have it checked out really quickly.” The next day Emmy went back home to London to get the lump checked out.
Her doctor broke the news to her.
Emmy was diagnosed with a rare type of thyroid cancer, and her doctor said it already spread to many other places: her spine, lungs, liver, and bones.
Understandably, Emmy and Jake were absolutely devastated. She was preparing for the trip of a lifetime to the Philippines and now she had to deal with the news of her fatal condition.
Jake Wasn’t Giving Up on Her
Jake said that “She had been complaining about not feeling great for a while but no one had ever felt her neck.” And even though the couple had been back together for just six months, Jake wasn’t about to give up on the love of his life.
He flew home to England to be with her. The couple refused to believe what the doctors were saying.
They wanted to take her cancer into their own hands.
They Chose to Fight
They wanted to fight cancer. Emmy said at the time, “Believe it or not I am happier than ever. Love truly is the best drug and I have been totally smothered in it.”
Emmy found out that if her cancer was caught sooner, she could have cured it. She also learned that she wouldn’t be able to have children. This was even more crushing to hear.
His Plans Changed
With everything that was happening and all the awful news that they were hearing, Jake decided to change his proposal plans.
Instead of the grand proposal idea of being on an exotic vacation, he chose to her to marry him one day when she was lying in bed.
You probably know what happens next.
She Said Yes
When Jake learning that Emmy wasn’t supposed to be in the sun once she starts treatment, he took her to Dubai for five days to try and rest and relax.
At that point, Emmy and Jake were not living together. But it was the next decision they made – to live together and make the best of their dreary situation.
Throughout Emmy’s intense treatment, she managed to keep her spirits high, always smiling, positive, and active. She even completed a 1,242-mile bike ride with Jake to raise money for the hospital in which she was getting treatment.
The sweet couple even got tattoos together to mark the special event. And soon after, the couple went on to tie the knot.
And everyone was crying, as you might imagine.
Tied the Knot
In September 2016, the couple tied the knot. And there wasn’t a dry eye in the place. Funnily enough, the only person who wasn’t crying during the ceremony was Emmy. She just couldn’t stop smiling.
The couple’s story caught national attention when Emmy started writing a blog about her personal journey. The blog allowed her to live her dream of writing children’s books! And Jake also received some fame when he was named “ITV Fundraiser of the Year” at the Pride of Britain Awards.
In the Spotlight
Jake got the award for his hard work and support in the hospital who was looking after his wife. The two suddenly found themselves in the spotlight, which they never expected.
Despite the newfound attention, the two tried and live a normal life together. And they still wanted to become parents, despite knowing that she won’t be able to have a baby.
They had a plan…
Eager to Help
The two were planning to get a surrogate, hoping it could be the solution to their problem. Emmy wrote about all of it on her blog and women across the globe were responding and eager to help.
One woman, Liz Begg, read Emmy’s blog reached out to her and it turns out that she was actually a former schoolmate of both Jake and Emmy. And she intended to help the couple out.
The Gift of Surrogacy
Liz had children of her own but she was really excited to offer Emmy and Jake the gift of surrogacy. As she said, “I didn’t really know them at school but when Emmy started sharing her story on her blog, I knew I wanted to help.”
Liz met with the couple a few times and the three made the decision together. Soon after, Liz was implanted with one of Emmy’s embryos. They were so excited and wanted to be with Liz throughout the whole process.
And three weeks later, they got the test results…
He Took Care of Her
Lucky for Emmy, Jake was a medically trained professional and he took care of her in a way that most husbands wouldn’t know how to.
But unfortunately, it had a dark side to it as well. Sometimes Jake was the only one who could really answer Emmy’s questions about her future. And they weren’t always bright.
A Struggle for Jake
It was really hard for Jake because on one hand, he wanted to be honest with Emmy, but on the other hand, he didn’t want his wife to be frightened.
But he was just thankful that he was able to be there for her. And finally, Emmy and Jake got some good news!
But the good news was short-lived.
The Implantation Worked
Finally, Emmy and Jake got some good news – Liz was pregnant! “We sat around a table and watched three pregnancy tests turn positive one after the other,” Jake said.
“To experience that moment with Emmy and see the hope in her eyes was incredible,” Liz said. “That was the most perfect day we ever spent together.” But tragically, it was also the last day they would be together.
At the Young Age of 31
Tragically, the battle with cancer ended when it claimed Emmy’s on June 16, 2017, at the young age of 31. Jake said, “Less than an hour after doing the tests Emmy could barely keep her eyes open—the tank was well and truly empty. Truth be told, Emmy never fully woke up.”
Jake then got another hit – his surrogate, Liz, lost the pregnancy. They even tried implantation two more times before deciding to give up. “Liz has been the most selfless, kind, thoughtful and gorgeous person throughout this whole process,” Jake said.
Mourning the Loss
Jake was mourning the loss of his beautiful wife as well as the loss of their potential baby. He took comfort in one thought and reminded himself of it frequently.
“I will always believe that Emmy has that first baby up with her in heaven,” he said. He carried her heart with him everywhere he went.
Eight Months Later
Jake found a new love eight months after losing Emmy. In early 2018, Jake met Jenna Selby and they went on a trip together to Iceland. But he still wasn’t giving up on Emmy and wanted to still make a difference.
In Iceland, he planned on running two marathons to raise more money for the hospital that treated Emmy. Jake looked like he was starting to move on was happy, but he was getting some backlash from the online community.
He Was Getting Criticized
Sure, some people were happy for Jake and excited that he found love again, but others criticized him for moving on in such a short time span.
The online community was quick to point out that Jenna even looked like Emmy. Jake took their feedback lightly and even had a great response.
“The odd negative comments that have been written (by people that don’t know me or have any understanding of my life or what I have been through) have been deleted because I don’t have any space in my life for negativity,” Jake said in a post.
Jake shared his story of how he met Jenna and how her young son saved his life. “No one was more surprised than me. They have both brought the sunshine back into my life and given me the nudge I so desperately needed to start living life to the full again,” he said.
He’ll Never Forget Emmy
He will never forget Emmy but he also said that “life is so short, you have to grab it with both hands and enjoy every second of it.”
You can’t argue with that! After three failed surrogacy attempts with Liz, Jake was really worried that he would never have a child of his own. But Jenna’s son filled a void in his heart.
The Two Became Close
Jake and Jenna’s son started to get close and create a bond. They spent a lot of time together, playing, hiking, and goofing around.
Jake still volunteers daily at the hospital where Emmy was treated. He also ran an art program there for children undergoing treatment with life-threatening cancer. It was Jake’s way of keeping Emily alive in his heart.
He also had another way to do keep her memory alive.
He Raised More Money
Jake kept raising more money for the hospital by running marathons. In eight weeks, Jake ran nine marathons, raising more than $1,000,000!
In the process, he lost a toenail, drove countless miles, and pushed his body to the ultimate limit. And it was all worth it to him.
Jake was trying his best to move on, but it wasn’t easy, and he actually had a message for other married couples:
“Go to your husband or your wife. Your partner or your lover. Tell them that you love them. Embrace them. Hold them that little bit longer… You’re only here in this world for the shortest time and you never know when it might all disappear.”
Early Detection is Key
Sadly, Emmy’s life could have been saved if she would have been able to detect her cancer symptoms early on. The ugly truth is that countless lives could be saved from cancer if we simply found the disease earlier.
So we think it’s important to go through ways to prevent cancer and find it early.
For starters, colonoscopies for both men and women should start at age 50. And in the cases where you know you have genetic risk factors, you should start even earlier.
To prevent prostate cancer, screening for healthy men should start at ages 50 to 70 every one or two years. And many actually recommend testing for men ages 45 to 49, too.
Next, how to detect breast cancer.
Screening for Breast and Cervical Cancer
For women, yearly mammograms are supposed to start after age 40 to help prevent breast cancer. Also, a Pap smear should occur every three years from age 21 to age 65. It’s one of the most successful ways screen for cervical cancer.
Of course, you should see your doctor every year and ask about what screenings are most relevant to you. The screenings you get will depend on your age, gender, and other risk factors like family history.
Know your Family History
Family history is very important. Knowing the history of diseases and conditions in your family tree can really help and even prevent a cancer diagnosis if taken seriously.
Genes play a major role in a lot of types of cancer. If cancer happens to run in your family, it’s wise to get genetic counseling and early screening as it will make a huge difference in detection and prevention.
Examples of the Role of Genetics in Cancer
There is a genetic condition called Lynch Syndrome and it raises the lifetime risk of colon cancer to 85 percent for men and 40 percent for women.
If this condition runs in your family, you should be getting colonoscopies at the age of 25. Breast cancer is another example. If you have the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2, your doctor will want to monitor you closely and discuss possible options, such as a preventive mastectomy.
Control What You Can
When it comes to genes, that’s out of your control and there is only so much you can do, like earlier screening as we explained. But there are things you can control.
Lifestyle changes and choices can make a huge impact in preventing cancer. For instance, you can lower your risk of lung, bladder, and other cancers by not smoking.
And there are more lifestyle changes that you can make.
You can greatly avoid skin cancer by opting out of tanning beds and excessive sun tanning. You can also minimize the risk of getting liver cancer by drinking in moderation only.
Diabetes Prevention Support Center
Many cancers can be reduced in likelihood by exercising regularly, eating smart, and keeping your weight in a healthy range.
Signs You Shouldn’t Ignore
There are cancers signs and symptoms that should never be ignored. Here are some signs that if you notice them, it’s worth visiting your doctor just to make sure.
Appetite loss is a major sign that affects both men and women. There are many conditions that can make you feel less hungry. And cancer can have this effect by changing your metabolism. Stomach, pancreatic, colon, and ovarian cancers put pressure on your stomach and make you feel too full to eat.
A Cough and Extreme Fatigue
A cough that doesn’t go away is something to check out. It could be a potential symptom of lung cancer, along with other red flags like chest pain, weight loss, hoarseness, fatigue, and shortness of breath.
Extreme fatigue is another one. It’s actually one of the most common cancer symptoms. But this is not a normal type of tiredness. It’s exhaustion that doesn’t go away. If getting more sleep still doesn’t make you wake up, see your doctor.
A Fever That Just Doesn’t End
If you have a fever that doesn’t go away, it could be lymphoma, leukemia, and kidney and liver cancers.
Lumps in the neck. As we learned with Emmy, it could be a warning of mouth, throat, thyroid, and voice box (larynx) cancers.
So get check out people! It could save your life.