Young Love Birds
Jake Coats and Emmy Collett met in grade school. Jake (from Monmouth, Wales) and Emmy (from Luckington, Wilshire) were only 11 years old, but their young hearts felt a connection, one that would play out remarkably over time.
Through the years, their romance blossomed from a schoolyard crush to young love. It was fated. From the very beginning, their futures were bound together––on a path paved with surprises. Though they didn’t know it, there would be unimaginable obstacles ahead.
Emmy Collett remembers their innocent beginnings. “My school-girl crush on Jake started almost 20 years ago when we were just 11 years old,” she said. “We quickly became childhood sweethearts and at 13 he told me that I was ‘his lobster.’ ” That sweet nickname, from the TVsitcom Friends, implied that the two were meant to be together forever.
Jake and Emmy were close as teenagers, and when they were 16, they found the courage to confess their feelings for one another. They dated for three years…every day of their romance leading them closer to a life-altering decision.
Exploring Separate Paths
As teenagers, Jake wrote in a note to Emmy: “You are my everything, and if you still can put up with me, I will marry you one day.” Before long though, high school was coming to an end, and the future loomed largely before them. They were at a crossroads and felt enormous pressure to reach a decision about their togetherness after graduation. What was once a carefree romance was suddenly complicated by very adult choices.
Jake and Emmy were one another’s first loves, and nothing could have been more exciting and wonderful…but it was finally time for college, and the pair decided to go their separate ways and forge new paths. Sadly, the young lovers parted, unaware of what the future held in store.
The Spark Was Back
During their university years, Jake Coates and Emmy Collett continued to stay close. Even though they were separated by distance, the couple defied the odds and managed to reconnect in 2015. Love always wins, as they say–and this was certainly true for Jake and Emmy.
It took 10 long years for the couple to find their way back to one another, but their rekindled romance was truly
legendary. Now in their 20s, fully educated, with careers and romance falling into place, it seemed like their shared destiny was picture-perfect. However, fate had other things in mind for this beautiful couple, despite their sweet beginnings.
Long Distance Love
Emmy and Jake were happy and fully satisfied with how their lives had turned out so far. They had come full circle and ended up together, true to their childhood dreams. It really did feel like destiny to them. Although Jake was working in Sydney, Australia as a doctor and Emmy was in London working as a teacher, the two were determined to make it work despite the distance. Since they made it through their college separation, they knew could make it through anything.
With almost 10,000 miles between them, the adorable pair knew they had to do everything in their power to stay connected. They spoke on FaceTime every single day and vowed to travel back and forth between Sydney and London as often as possible to feed and sustain their relationship. They were committed to making it work and were completely devoted to each other. Only six months later, however, one simple request would change everything.
Taking Their Relationship To The Next Level
With the passing of time, it was natural for Jake and Emmy to think more about their shared future. Jake thought about it incessantly, and by 2016, he couldn’t contain himself anymore. He planned to make good on the note he’d written Emmy long ago…the note in which he vowed to marry her one day. She was still his everything, and he wanted to make their commitment official.
It was go time. Jake fully intended to follow through with a romantic trip to the Philippines. There, he would propose to Emmy on a breathtaking cliff before a backdrop of fireworks. As a planned proposal, it was perfection. He loved Emmy to the end of the earth and wanted to honor that feeling. But life got in the way, not only preventing that trip but changing their destiny forever.
Nothing Was The Same
Before that big adventure and life-changing proposal, Emmy traveled to Australia for one of her frequent visits to Jake. On the last day of their blissful reunion, she had a simple request for her boyfriend: she asked him to give her a neck massage.
It was such a sweet, simple request, and Jake was happy to oblige. He adored Emmy and would do anything to make
her feel cared for and loved. As he put his hand on her warm neck, he noticed something that made him freeze. He will never forget that moment.
The Fateful Day
Jake recalled that day: “We were sitting in a restaurant on a Sunday afternoon – a really sunny, beautiful day. I just touched her neck from behind and I knew immediately that something was wrong. My blood ran cold.”
Jake felt a lump in Emmy’s neck and the worst thoughts went through his mind. In his words, “We were just two people in love lying on a beach in Sydney without a care in the world. Who would have known what was to happen next?”
The Mysterious Lump
“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 continued. “I just said very calmly that she needed to have it checked out really quickly.”
“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 continued. “I just said very calmly that she needed to
have it checked out really quickly.”
“I told her to make an appointment with her GP as soon as she got home. And that’s what happened.” The following morning, Emmy flew back to Britain and went for a checkup. She took Jake’s concern seriously, but he always cared deeply about her well-being so she wasn't too alarmed. Even so, neither of them could have prepared for what the doctor would say.
The Alarming News
Emmy Collett’s exam results came back a day before she and Jake were set to travel to the Philippines for their life-changing adventure. Instead of packing excitedly for a happy getaway, the couple focused on the urgent matter at hand. Visions of their trip-of-a-lifetime faded quickly. The life-changing moment was here and now, and it was anything but happy.
In devastating news, the couple learned that Emmy had a rare type of thyroid cancer. She was one of the youngest people in the country with this condition. The diagnosis
confirmed that cancer had spread to Emmy’s spine, lungs, liver, and bones. The condition was incurable, they were told. With these words, the two were left heartbroken.
In Sickness And In Health
Emmy and Jake were lifetime loves. At such a young age, they never could have foreseen this awful turn of events. “She had been complaining about not feeling great for a
while but no one had ever felt her neck,” Jake said. It was unimaginable, yet very real.
Everything changed in a matter of days. Jake immediately dropped everything to be by Emmy’s side. He flew back to Britain, ready to do whatever it took to see her through
this. Together, they prepared for battle, unconvinced that their love story had reached its final chapter. To them, that ending was unacceptable.
A Fight For Life
Hand-in-hand, Emmy and Jake forged ahead. They refused to give in to this disease, and defiantly, they prepared for the most important battle in Emmy’s young
lifetime. Characteristically, Emmy met the challenge with her signature optimism and a megawatt smile. Her beautiful spirit was a bright light in the darkness.
Friends and family rallied, offering their help and support. At the time, Emmy said, “Believe it or not I am happier than ever. Love truly is the best drug and I have been totally surrounded by it.” She was admitted to the Royal Marsden Hospital in London. It was there that she received spectacular care, but also, unfortunately, some further upsetting news.
Bravery In The Face Of A Deadly Disease
As if the shock and trauma of her diagnosis weren’t enough, Emmy was told by specialists that if her cancer had been caught earlier, she could have actually made a full recovery. This news was only outdone by the painful news that she would not be able to bear children.
Despite Emmy’s lifelong dream to become a mother, she was undefeated in the face of that news. Despite all the hardships and heartbreak, she chose instead to focus on
the glimmers of hope and happiness on the horizon. It was an inspirational and lovely mindset, especially given the challenges she was facing.
A few weeks after the dreadful day of Emmy’s diagnosis, Jake asked Emmy for her hand in marriage over a simple cup of tea in bed. Far from his grand vision of a destination proposal, it was honest and real. Exactly the right thing, given that their lives had been turned completely upside down.
Overjoyed, Emmy said yes. She dove into wedding planning and immersed herself in thoughts of marrying
her lifetime love. Looking forward to their big day was consuming, and gave her a wonderful benchmark to look forward to, amid hours of exhausting cancer treatments.
Little did she know, there were more incredible moments ahead.
Spontaneous Romantic Get Away
Jake and Emmy decided to make the most of every minute they had left together. To them, dwelling on regrets was a waste of precious hours. They lived by Emmy’s personal motto, embracing its positivity: Smile, love and be kind. Her motto was tested over and over again, even when she was told she wouldn’t be able to sunbathe again because of the medication she was on.
Spontaneously, and with extra care in the sunshine, the pair of lovebirds escaped to Dubai for a spontaneous five-day getaway. The brief vacation spoke to their desire to live life to its fullest, and provided much-needed togetherness and rest and recuperation. True to her inspirational self, upon returning home, Emmy embarked on an ambitious and admirable effort.
Selfless Giving Despite Illness
Emmy amazed everyone by staying positive and upbeat, never stopping for a minute to feel sorry for herself. She stayed incredibly active during her exhausting cancer treatment, refusing to remain bedridden. Remarkably, she and Jake were tireless in raising funds for the Royal Marsden Hospital.
Emmy and Jake completed an incredible 2,000-kilometer (1,242 miles) bike ride across Europe from London to Copenhagen and raised more than £140,000 (over $195,000) for Royal Marsden Hospital. It was a spectacular display of their shared sense of adventure and a deep-seated love for one another and the world at large. They even got matching tattoos to mark the occasion. A
romantic gesture all its own.
Their Special Day
The love story of Jake Coates and Emmy Collett spanned many years, endured long distances, and encountered
serious obstacles. From childhood sweethearts to soulmates to life partners, they stayed true to their hearts and each other. And, in September 2016, the smitten British pair tied the knot without a dry eye at the event.
Though the future was unknown, the glowing bride beamed brightly as she exchanged vows with her beloved Jake. The ceremony was charged with emotion, and filled with love. Jake recalled that he couldn’t sleep the night before the wedding due to the sheer excitement he felt about getting to “marry this girl, the love of my life.” Married, at last, there were many more things ahead for this beautiful couple.
Raising Public Awareness
Because of their incredibly unusual and touching circumstances, Jake and Emmy caught the public’s eye and became well-known by many. Tapping into her teaching experience and writing talent, Emmy, true to form, spent her time in treatment penning children’s books. Not to be outdone, Jake was named ITV Fundraiser of the Year at the Pride of Britain Awards for his unfaltering
charity work in support of his wife and her hospital. Together they were a model of love, compassion, and strength through adversity.
Emmy’s blog, which she established to detail her moving and inspirational battle against cancer, was very popular and a source of growing attention. Though she couldn’t have known at the time, Emmy’s blog would eventually lead to yet another incredible life-changing event…one which surprised everyone.
Expanding The Family
In spite of their daunting circumstances, Emmy and Jake were planning to expand their small family and fulfill their dream of becoming parents. Though Emmy was told she wouldn’t be able to carry a child, she wrote openly on her blog about her desires to use a surrogate so she could become a mother. With her blog as a platform, countless women came forward to generously offer their help.
The prospect of a baby was everything. It kept Emmy and Jake feeling positive and hopeful, even during their darkest days. Though they were unsure about the future and how much more time they’d have together, reproductive specialists agreed to collect enough samples for nine viable embryos. At a time low in certainty, this filled them with the promise of possibility.
An Old Schoolmate Emerges
In a lovely turn of events, a former schoolmate of the couple read Emmy’s story and was touched by both her
tale and her remarkable spirit. Liz Begg, a 32-year-old mother of one, lived nearby and wanted to help. Liz said she didn’t really know the couple in school, but was captivated by the dramatic tale Emmy shared on her blog. She simply had to meet this amazing person. For a pair of grade school sweethearts, Liz was a gift from the past.
Through the blog, Liz made contact with Jake and Emmy and the three agreed to meet. Liz was incredibly impressed with the couple. “Emmy was just something else – an incredible person and so positive,” she said.“The best way to describe her is gracious.” The three former classmates were newly bound, moving toward an experience that would alter their lives forever.
Sent From The Heavens
Emmy and Jake met with Liz a few more times while Emmy continued with chemotherapy. They quickly realized that she was exactly what they were looking for. Describing Liz as their “angel,” Emmy and Jake chose her as their surrogate, accompanied her to the implantation procedure, and remained by her side. She was unlocking a future for them that they so richly deserved.
Only three weeks later, Liz would take a pregnancy test to reveal whether or not the procedure was successful. If it was, she would carry Emmy’s and Jake’s baby, allowing a
small part of Emmy to live on, regardless of what the future had in store for her.
House Call Doctor
With his training and experience as a doctor, Jake Coates had every advantage in caring for and supporting Emmy, his wife and childhood sweetheart. As she battled cancer, he was able to tend to her with compassion, monitor her condition closely, and give any needed injections and medications. His livelihood and his life blended seamlessly, and he was her ‘round-the-clock doctor.
Having this much responsibility was both a blessing and a curse for Jake, something he referred to as a ‘doubleedged sword.’ Though he was happy to be there, supporting his beloved partner as only he could, he was also the one responsible for answering all of Emmy’s tough questions
Emmy Seeks Answers
Jake found himself struggling with the daunting task of addressing Emmy’s deepest worry—her deteriorating health. As a doctor and her husband, he had no trouble supporting her and helping her through painful medical treatments. But it was very distressing to be truthful with his wife about her diminishing health.
There were definitely some advantages to being in his highly-trained position. His professional identity served as a kind of protection and defense mechanism for him. He also found great comfort in being able to help decipher complicated medical terminology for Emmy, easing her worry and allowing her to better understand what she was going through. After all, this patient was the love of his life. He was the best person to care for her.
The Future Looks Bright
About three weeks after Liz’s implantation procedure, it was time to hear the news. Emmy, Liz, and Jake gathered together with hope and love. “We sat around a table and watched three
pregnancy tests turn positive one after the other,” Jake said. They were all ecstatic to share this baby news. There had been a genuine shortage of good events lately. This was like a ray of sunshine
Liz recalled the moment beautifully: “To experience that moment with Emmy and see the hope in her eyes was incredible. That was the most perfect day we ever spent together.” Tragically, it was also the last time Liz would ever speak to Emmy.
'Til Death Do Us Part
Less than an hour after receiving the happy pregnancy news, Jake said Emmy could barely keep her eyes open. Her heart may have been full and happy, but her tank was
empty. “Truth be told, Emmy never fully woke up,” a devastated Jake recalled. Tragically, Emmy passed away after an 18-month thyroid cancer batter on June 16, 2017, at the age of 31. Jake, her love, was right beside her until the very end.
In his loss, Jake was comforted by only one thought: “She died blissful in the knowledge we were going to have our baby.” Still, Jake said he felt “utterly lost and empty without
her.” Jake’s loss was profound. “She was my north, my south, my east, my west,” he said. “The reason I wanted to wake up every morning and be a better person.” It felt like an abrupt and harrowing ending…but the story wasn’t quite over.
As if coping with the loss of his soulmate and wife weren’t enough, Jake Coates endured another heartbreak when he learned that Liz’s treasured pregnancy ended prematurely. In honor of Emmy, Jake attempted surrogacy two more times. With zero success, he ended further implantation procedures indefinitely. It was painful to accept that he would never hold the baby belonging to him and his truest love, Emmy.
One thing never changed though. He remained eternally grateful to Liz Begg for all that she had done for him an Emmy. “Liz has been the most selfless, kind, thoughtful and gorgeous person throughout this whole process,” he said. His grief in losing Emmy was enormous, but knowing there were good people in the world was of some comfort.
Sent From Above
Having lost Emmy, Jake Coates was enduring the greatest sorrow of his life. He described her as: “My co-captain on my bike. My best friend. My lobster. My wife. And truly my
hero.” He admitted that not a moment went by without deeply longing for her, and wishing they could be together. Just one more moment. One more day. One more kiss. He was truly beside himself with grief.
“I can’t look to the passenger seat while driving the car without the deepest ache spreading across my chest,” a heartbroken Jake shared. There was actually one thought that was of comfort to him. “I will always believe that Emmy has that first baby up with her in heaven,” he said. Despite his tragic losses, an unexpected twist in the story was yet to be revealed.
Emmy and Jake Coates’ dramatic story of love and loss captivated Britain and became a much-publicized sensation. Even after Emmy’s untimely death, the pair remained a subject of heartfelt interest. Months later, Jake’s personal life made headlines.
As a young widower, Jake will always carry the painful loss of his first love, but fortunately, his heart remained open to happiness. About eight months into his grieving process, Jake revealed that at 32 years old, he was lucky enough to find love again. Having a new love interest was healing and wonderful, like magic balm to his wounded heart.
Staying Optimistic Despite Past Grief
In early 2018, to honor his beautiful Emmy, Jake Coates was determined to run 10 marathons within two months to raise funds for The Royal Marsden Hospital. The same hospital that looked after his “beautiful girl.” The marathons took place internationally, and for the marathon in Iceland, he traveled with his new love interest, event planner Jenna Selby. It was bittersweet to have Jenna accompany him on a mission taken in memory of his wife.
Jake was beginning to put back the pieces of his heart and life. In February, he took to social media with a cheery post about his new “gorgeous little ragamuffin.” It was a stark
change from his usual posts containing bittersweet memories and commemorations of his late wife Emmy. The response was enormous and immediate.
The Pursuit Of Happiness
Even though Jake seemed delighted to find healing and love in a new relationship, people on social media weren’t generous, to say the least. Instead of recognizing that Jake had found solace and happiness in the company of Jenna and her young child, some were critical—pointing out that Jenna & Emmy bore a striking resemblance. Some media outlets even dubbed her an Emmy “lookalike.
While many people were supportive, expressing delight that Jake found a way to open his heart again after so much sorrow, others were quite unforgiving, chastising him for disrespecting his wife so soon after her death. Everyone seemed to have an opinion.
Not Receiving The Same Support
Actually, there were many who supported Jake and Jenna, wishing them well. But, those who criticized Jake for going public with his new love were very vocal. They took the position that it had only been eight months since Emmy’s passing, and it was wrong of Jake to parade around his newfound love for the entire world to see. They thought Jake’s actions were hurtful to Emmy’s family.
The supporters stood in defense of the young widower, saying he deserved happiness, especially after everything he had been through. Emmy’s distraught sister Sophie was among those who were outwardly critical. But, Jake had a wonderful response to these critics.
Keeping His Head Up
Jake Coates stood up for himself, respectfully explaining that in the wake of the traumatic events he had endured, he was doing everything he possibly could to stay strong and go on living. His philosophy: to do his best every day and never give up on finding happiness. It was the only way he knew to carry on.
“The odd negative comments that have been written (by people who 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,” he said. His ever-positive and gracious outlook were precisely what he and Emmy shared while she was alive. It is later evident in something he’d say about his new love.
Happy Little Family
While thinking back on how on how Jenna and her child came into his life, Jake Coates said: “no one was more surprised than me.” He added that: “they have both brought sunshine back into
my life and given me the nudge I so desperately needed to start living life to the fullest again.”
Jake went on to say, “Life is so short, you have to grab it with both hands and enjoy every second of it!” He also expressed gratitude for Jenna’s support and strength in a very difficult situation. While Jake is determined to look toward the future, he expressed his undying love for Emmy, saying that she'll always be in his thoughts and will always hold a special place in his heart.
Living By Emmy's Motto
Painfully and tragically, Jake Coates was unable to fulfill his dream of having a baby with Emmy, his beloved wife, and childhood sweetheart. Having endured two failed IVF treatments with volunteer surrogate Liz, the risk of another failed attempt was more than Jake could bear.
Jake’s history, disappointment, and longing to be a father made time spent with Jenna Selby’s little boy even more touching, meaningful, and lovely. The two seem to be completely smitten with each other and enjoy playing games, swimming, going on hikes, and watching movies together.
Jake Coates is not an ordinary physician. In addition to his medical work, his tragic life experience has taught him firsthand about the hardships cancer patients and their loved ones go through on their paths toward wellness. He feels this plight deeply and is committed to volunteering daily at The Royal Marsden Hospital. He believes it’s the
least he can do as a responsible, empathic, able-bodied man and doctor.
Jake runs children’s art class in the hospital’s pediatric unit and generously shares his own experiences with people he meets in person and on his Instagram page. His attempt to raise awareness about the struggle and bravery of cancer patients is very touching. He knows about it because he lived it.
Fundraising For Emmy's Fund
Jake Coates’ efforts to raise awareness and money for charity were quite successful. After Jake made the announcement that he would run 10 marathons for charity, his social media followers also rose to the challenge, donating a large sum of money to the Emmy Coates fund and The Royal Marsden Hospital. Over £7000 was raised, money that would never have found its way to these noble causes without Jake’s efforts.
As a touching tribute to his beloved Emmy, Jake succeeded in completing a staggering 9 marathons in 8 weeks. In part, this is a celebration of Emmy, who bravely completed a marathon herself while battling cancer. It puts Jake’s hard work into perspective. In a recent Facebook post about his amazing achievement, Jake wrote about
how he had to drive over 2000 miles, spend large sums of money on entry fees and even lose a toenail – but it was all worth it, he wrote, especially in contrast to the hardships those with cancer endure. Particularly Emmy, whose graciousness in the face of suffering was staggering. He was humbled by her generous, unselfish spirit.
Children's Book Author
The late Emmy Coates was a primary school teacher who had a special place in her heart for children and children’s books. Remarkably, while battling cancer, Emmy devoted her time to writing several children’s books of her own, to keep her mind off the painful treatments and express her love for children
Emmy’s books were inspired by the bicycle and trailer she and her husband owned–named Tara and Tyrone. Emmy created the text, and the multi-talented Jake crafted the
illustrations. Together, the two started their very own children’s book publishing business. An unstoppable duo.
Third Time’s the Charm
Emmy completed two wonderful Tara and Tyrone books, entitled “Tara and Tyrone – Stuck in The Mud” and “Tara and Tyrone – Pedro The Pump.” She did this while going through chemotherapy for her illness. Both books were illustrated by her doctor/illustrator husband, Jake.
Before passing away, Emmy also came close to finishing book number three, “Tara and Tyrone – Lost at Sea.” Jake carefully completed the book for Emmy, making sure it
came out just exactly as she would have wanted. Proceeds from all three books are also donated to The Royal Marsden Hospital.
Together At Heart
Jake’s life is different than he would have ever imagined only a few years ago. Even as he moves forward, he is determined to keep Emmy’s memory alive and spread her message of hope and love. “I still talk to Emmy every day,” he wrote in a tribute to her. He knows what a remarkable woman she was and feels a deep responsibility to honor her life.
Jake also has a word of advice for others: “Go to your husband or your wife, your partner or your lover. Tell them that you love them. Embrace them. Hold them a little bit longer….You’re only here in this world for the shortest time and you never know when it might all disappear.”