When Emma Houlston was 29 years old, she noticed she was starting to put on weight, and constantly felt bloated, tired, and under-the-weather.
She chalked it up to her approaching 30thbirthday, thinking that she was just under stress, but fortunately, a doctor was able to quickly diagnose a much more serious problem.
Houlston had a tumor the size of a grapefruit on her ovary, and had a rare and fast-acting form of cancer where her tumor could grow by as much as half an inch a week.
Houlston’s cancer, small cell carcinoma of the ovary, was extremely aggressive, but her medical team acted quickly.
They removed the whole tumor successfully, and she underwent six months of chemo to insure the cancer cells were eradicated.
At the end of the six months, she was declared cancer-free; she began planning her wedding to fiance Matt Lees and wondering whether she might be able to have a baby despite her intensive treatments.
Houlston had just over a year without cancer, time she spent putting life in order and preparing for the future.
Then, in the summer of 2016, she began to feel unwell and bloated once again, just as she did before her first diagnosis.
Doctors confirmed in June that the cancer is back; Houlston’s abdomen is riddled with small tumors, which, dueto her earlier treatment, are likely immune to chemo and other traditional cancer treatments.
Houlston’s able medical team can’t take the same approach they took before, particularly not since the tumors are unlikely to respond to chemo.
They attempted an experimental drug trial, to no avail, and they’re now running out of options.
The only treatment left is an immunotherapy, where the body’s own immune system is triggered to go after and attack the cancer cells.
Immunotherapy treatments like the one proposed for Houlston have been tremendously successful in lots of other cancer patients and might give her a real shot there’sjust one problem.
This cancer therapy is new and experimental enough that it isn’t funded under the UK National Healthcare System; to get the treatment, Houlston needs to pay an estimated 114,000 pounds, or just under $140,000.
It’s a tremendous amount of money for any normal person, but Houlston and her fiance have come up with a truly novel approach to get the ball rolling.
The young couple had already pushed their wedding date up significantly; they’ll be married next month because they don’t know what the future holds, and they want tomake sure that Houlston gets the opportunity to marry the love of her life.
Many of their loved ones have contacted them, asking about what they’d like for wedding gifts.
They got the question so many times thatHoulston and Lees decided to simply email all of their friends and tell them, in lieu of a wedding present, they’d very much appreciate a small donation to Houlston’s medical fund.
After all, wedding gifts have always been meant to help secure a comfortable future for the couple, by helping them furnish their life together.
It’s just that, in this case, wedding guests are skipping the serving platters and roasting pans in the interest of securing a differentfuture: a healthy bride with a long life ahead of her to share with her groom.
The friends and family of the couple were incredibly enthusiastic about the idea, more than happy to forgo old-fashioned gifts in favor of a future for the bride.
In fact, within just 12 hours of sending out their initial email, Houlston’s fundraising site was flooded with donations from well-wishers.
They’d started the fund with just twenty pounds of their own money to kick things off by the next day, the fund has gone viral, and more than 50,000 pounds had flooded in fromfamily, friends, and, for the most part, total strangers who simply want a happy life for the couple.
Now, they have raised a whopping 216,000pounds, or about $265,000 far more than the estimated goal of 114,000. Pictured above, Houlston is enthusiastically thanking everyone who has donated to help her with her last shot at conquering cancer.
Sheand Lees still have a long road ahead, but she’s already started the treatment, andnow they know that people all over the world are rooting for their happily ever after!
If you’d like to contribute to Houlston’s fund, check out her GoFundMe page here, and don’t forget toSHAREthis incredible story about fighting spirit and the kindness of strangers!