CEDAR SPRINGS, MICHIGAN (WITI) — Six months after losing her daughter, a West Michigan mother is now preparing to say goodbye to her husband.
Jake and Kelly Francis began dating in 2004. While they’ve known each other since high school, it wasn’t until their college years that they fell in love.
“It just instantly turned from a friendship to a relationship,” Kelly said.
According to WXMI, after just six months together, Jake was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
Jake and Kelly Francis got married in 2007. Two years later came a big victory. Jake's cancer had been in remission for five years.
“When you reach five years of not having cancer, you’re considered cured. August of 2009, we were so celebratory that we made it through the five years. We never have to worry about this again,” Kelly said.
Then, Jake was diagnosed with a different form of testicular cancer. This time, the treatment wouldn’t help and the cancer would ultimately take his life.
But that didn’t stop Jake and Kelly from creating the family they’ve always wanted. Kelly got pregnant and learned they were having twins -- a boy and a girl. Although she was overwhelmed, blessed and grateful at the thought of having two children, she was also scared. She knew that someday she would have to raise them on her own.
While coping with Jake’s failing health, the couple received yet another devastating diagnosis. This time, it involved one of their unborn children. At only 17 weeks pregnant, Kelly and Jake learned their daughter, Avery, had multicycstic dysplastic kidneys, which prevented her lungs from growing. She died shortly after birth.
“We did have 63 minutes with her and I will forever treasure that amount of time,” Kelly said.
While grieving the loss of their daughter, they rejoiced over the birth of their son, Evan. Jake’s cancer continued to progress. He was given six months to live in January.
Kelly now stays at home to help Jake, who is no longer able to continue his work as a nurse. The couple’s friend McKenzie Pepper is calling upon the community to help them out.
“Their hearts are just so genuinely good and caring and loving. They’ve been a huge inspiration to so many people. We really are asking the community to reach out and support them financially. It would be amazing to give them the gift of time, together as a family, so that Kelly doesn’t have to worry about working. So, they can spend as much time together with Evan," Pepper said.
Pepper and other family members and friends are soliciting donations via PayPal. Upon logging in, a gift can be donated to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Although the couple has reached their goal of expanding their family, the physical separation once Jake is gone isn’t going to stop them from being whole.
“I feel like we were blessed with twins because Jake is too good of a father not to be one in heaven. He gets Avery in heaven and I get Evan here," Kelly said.