“I met her in Dubai. We were both working there and were introduced to each other in a little bar. We basically hit it off from there. We were on the same page about everything. Head over heels, as they say, from day one! We were about six months into our relationship when she began to experience a lot of abdominal pains. They were nothing new to her. She had been experiencing milder versions of the same pains for about four years before, but this time, the pains were becoming unbearable and she also began to lose a lot of weight. We went to see a doctor and, from then on, were in and out of hospitals. Actually, a lot of our dates in Dubai were me bringing her comfort foods, while she was sitting in a hospital bed, trying to figure out what was going on. Most of the time, just like in the past four years, doctors would dismiss her symptoms saying that it was an infection or an inflammation because stomach cancer is so extremely rare for people of her age – but she knew that something more serious was going on. She actually pushed for a laparoscopy, where they took samples and looked inside with a tiny camera. After the procedure, the doctors were saying that things didn’t look well, but they couldn’t confirm what it was until the lab results came back. So, they sent us home and we ended up travelling back to Donegal to spend Christmas at home and to finally introduce her to my parents. That was when we got the call, on the same day, when I got to finally introduce her to my mum. We ended up all crying together. We couldn’t believe that this was really happening. The doctor told us that it was cancer, but they couldn’t confirm what cancer and which stage she was in. They told us to try and enjoy Christmas and when we get back, they’ll do some more tests. When we travelled back, this time to the UK where she was from, we soon found out that it was Stage 4 stomach cancer. She was given only a couple of weeks to live.”
“Then, our journey of specialists, private doctors, online researches, holistic options, trial and experimental treatments began. In the beginning, we were positive that we would be able to beat it, but after a few small wins, we began exhausting our options. We eventually realised that nothing was going to work in the long run. Despite the doctors giving her only a few weeks to live, she survived for two years. Her testament, strong character and mental strength gave her the extra time. In those two years, we lived a happy and fulfilling life together. If anything, cancer showed us how precious time is, so we didn’t waste any. We got married, we travelled, we got a dog, we set up a successful business… We called it ‘Fvck Cancer’. That gave us a lot of purpose. We started off by making headwear for people going through chemo. It was something that she was very passionate about. We spread awareness and donated to cancer charities. She wanted to prove that you can still be happy and live a fulfilling life even when the odds are against you. So, we did! All the way to the last couple of months. Eventually, her health began to decline rapidly and we turned our focus to palliative care. We moved into a home where her sister and nieces, and friends could easily stay and we tried to make her as comfortable a possible… She was a wonderful person with a bubbly personality. She easily made friends wherever she went. I feel grateful that I could have her in my life. I’ve learned so much, man! She thought me so much… I feel it’s important to keep sharing Emilia’s legacy because nobody could truly appreciate her as much as her friends and family could. She was a magnificent human being. She changed me as a person. This is my first Movember. This week is also the first anniversary of losing her. I don’t think I have even begun the process of grieving her yet…”
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