Courtenay’s Emily Wood, 24, lost her battle with cancer on Saturday, but her husband vows to continue fighting for her.
Near the end of June, Emily was given three to 12 months to live after she was told treatments were not working on the aggressive large-cell lymphoma cancer she was diagnosed with early in the year.
Husband Shawn Wood, 28, has announced he will create the Emily Ann Foundation, through which he will fight Emily’s fight by helping other people who are in her situation.
“We looked into lots of programs, like Make a Wish and those kind of programs, and there’s a lot of paperwork and there’s a lot of time it takes for them to start helping and, you know, when those people are in dire straits I just want to be able to go, ‘We’re here, we got you, let’s do it,’ you know, make that wish happen whatever it may be,” Shawn explained Monday. “That’s the kind of things I want to help with is when people have no one else to go to. I promised I’d keep fighting for her.”
Emily’s dying wish was to marry Shawn, who was her love of nine years. Shawn reached out to the community to help make their wedding happen on July 3, just 10 days after Emily was told the treatments weren’t working and was given three to 12 months to live.
The community responded with offers of goods, services and cash streaming in from businesses and individuals right away.
Shawn also set up an indiegogo account online with a goal of $5,000 to help with the wedding expenses — that account received over $12,000 in donations.
Shawn said Emily felt her wish was granted, and their wedding day was the best day of both of their lives. He saw proof when he was going through their photos to create a video eulogy on Sunday night.
“Going through the pictures last night, making this video — and I’ve got hundreds and hundreds of pictures, and I’m going through them all — and the happiest ones were our wedding,” he said Monday as he fought back tears. “That was her happiest day of her life.”
After spending their wedding night at the Old House Village Hotel and Spa, they spent the next night at the Kingfisher Oceanside Resort and Spa. He said Emily was feeling “like a million bucks” after their mini-honeymoon, but her health started deteriorating shortly after that.
Vision problems, swelling in her legs, a drop in blood platelets and more pain were a few of her symptoms. Shawn cared for her at home until Friday evening when she started having trouble breathing.
Emily passed away in hospital early Saturday evening, and although Shawn noted she was heavily medicated later in the day, they had a chance to say goodbye to each other before.
“She was able to look at me without that pain in her eyes and I spent a good couple hours with her just talking,” said Shawn, adding he could tell it would be their last time spent together. “You just kind of knew, so I told her it was OK, and that we’re all fine, and that she could go.”
Shawn planned to hold a large community party to to publicly celebrate the wedding and say thank you to everyone for their support later this month or early August.
Instead, he said he will hold a large memorial service, open to the public, after a smaller service with friends and family on July 28. He will announce details at a later date.
The newlyweds had planned to go on a donated seven-night Alaskan cruise for their honeymoon at the end of the month.
Shawn said he may still go on the cruise, and he plans to do some travelling in August.
“There was a few places we always wanted to go, so I’m going to go down to Seattle and then Niagara Falls, and then Calgary and then back home,” he said. “It was something we always wanted to do together so I thought, “Why not go do it?’ “
He will return in time to start the fourth year of his business degree in September. Shawn had previously said Emily inspired him to go back to school in the first place, and now she’s helped him choose what to do with his business degree — create the Emily Ann Foundation.
Before he starts throwing himself completely into school and the foundation, Shawn said he’s taking time for himself to heal.
“Once I’ve taken care of myself, I can start helping others,” he said.
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A fundraiser and celebration of life for Emily Wood is set for Aug. 15 at the Mex Pub in Courtenay.
Listed on Facebook as Celebration of life for Emily and Shawn, entrance is by donation and half of the proceeds will go to the Emily Ann Foundation, which her husband Shawn Wood announced this week. The other half of proceeds will go to the Canadian Cancer Society.
Initially, the event was listed on Facebook as Rock on for Emily and Shawn to help raise money for the newlyweds while Emily fought her battle with cancer.
Performing musicians include Pamela Tessmann, Cottonmouth Jones, Braeden Marshal, the Lorne Rangers and DJ DeToks.
There will be a raffle for a gift basket valued at $600.
The event starts at 8 p.m. and runs until 2 a.m.