A distraught newlywed has described the heartbreaking moment she watched her husband pass away just 13 hours after tying the knot.
Michelle White had worked against the clock to arrange her wedding with her two-year partner Scott Plumley when he was suddenly diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer and told he only had ‘days’ left to live.
After being given the heartbreaking news last Monday evening, the couple, who had already been saving for a future wedding, decided to tie the knot as soon as possible.
Ten days on she is trying to organise a funeral they hadn’t planned for, following a wedding they organised in a day, reports the Bristol Post.
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Now proudly called Mrs Plumley, Michelle is appealing to the ‘all the good people in the world’ to help her meet the funeral costs for the husband she had for just 13 hours.
The astonishing and tragic week began last Thursday, August 9.
Until that point, Michelle, 32, was living happily with Scott, 41, at her home in Lawrence Weston, Bristol.
They had been together for a couple of years. Scott, a self-employed electrician, worked as a contractor for Mars Maintenance – a job that took him all over the Bristol area and the wider south west.
The couple had met on an online dating site, chatting for weeks before they met, and really hit it off. Within a couple of months of meeting, Scott moved in with Michelle and quickly became a father to her two young children.
But in late July, he began complaining that he had bad indigestion. He went to the doctor and was prescribed the drug omeprazole, for treating stomach ulcers.
It didn’t help, and after finishing a night shift in her job as a care worker, Michelle returned home last week to find Scott collapsed on the floor in agony. She rang an ambulance, and Scott was admitted to hospital on Friday morning.
On the Saturday, August 11, an endoscopy revealed that the doctors suspected it was more serious than a stomach ulcer, and tests on the Monday were conclusive.
“The consultant came in at around 4pm on the Monday to his bed at Southmead Hospital,” said Michelle.
“He said Scott had Stage 4 cancer of the oesophagus, and because they caught it late, it had already spread to his liver and had destroyed that, and there was nothing they could do.
“I asked how long, expecting them to say ‘a couple of months’ or something, so I could bring him home, but they said ‘no it will be weeks at most, in fact, it could be just days’.
They said there was nothing they could do, no chemo or anything, just palliative care.
“This was devastating,” she added.
Taking in the impact of that news on Monday evening, the couple decided to do two things. Firstly, alert Scott’s family and friends to the news, and secondly, get married. As soon as possible.
“We were already engaged – we got engaged on the anniversary of us getting together – and we were planning to get married, saving up for it. I had a few bits and bobs bought for when the day came,” she added.
On Tuesday, as family arrived from all over the country, and friends old and new came to be with Scott, Michelle and her friends set about planning a wedding in less than 24 hours.
The couple set up a GoFundMe page to help out, and donations helped with the extras.
“We got to the Register Office in the city centre at 4pm on Tuesday, and got the Registrar to come to the hospital at noon on Wednesday,” said Michelle.
“It was a massive rush. I literally had 20 hours to prepare and arrange a wedding. Everyone was so generous. One of my friends did the flowers, got a cake. I live in a block of flats in Lawrence Weston and it is a real community – when they heard what was happening, everyone came out and helped out,” she added. “One neighbour did my hair, it was amazing.”
Meanwhile, Scott was being reunited with friends from all over the place.
“Scott was born in Bristol, brought up in Hartcliffe, went to Withywood School and moved later to Stroud, lived in Gloucester for a time, and everyone all around knew him. He was one of those people who everyone loved and was friends with. People from school came to see him, people from all over. I don’t think there was a moment when there wasn’t someone at his bedside to see him,” said Michelle. “We had a stream of people.”
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The wedding day came on Wednesday. Just before noon, Scott was dressed in a shirt and trousers, sat up in a wheelchair and taken to the quiet room at the end of the ward at Southmead, where friends and family had gathered.
The couple were married, and then everyone went outside for the photos.
“He was so strong, really battling being obviously in pain,” said Michelle. “He could hardly speak, but when they asked ‘do you take this woman’ when we were saying our vows, he answered loudly: ‘I sure do!’. He kept his sense of humour throughout – and he had a great sense of humour.
“He said there was no way he’d have any Prosecco, which is what we were toasting with, so we bought him a little bottle of Stella, and he had a sip or two of that,” she added.
“After an hour or so in the chair, you could tell it was getting too much – we’ve got a good 200 wedding photos! So he went back to bed for some sleep, and we all went to the Air Balloon pub for the wedding reception.
"The family and I returned later and we had a great evening by his bedside. He was so happy he managed to smile throughout the whole thing. He was a bit perkier that evening, and I was planning on spending the night there – they’d got me a reclining chair next to his bed, so I put my pyjamas on and settled down. His mum and sister stayed until about 11pm, and he was deteriorating fast. We knew it was coming to the end,” she said.
Michelle and Scott shared the last couple of hours together as midnight passed on their wedding night.
“He was uncomfortable, thrashing at his oxygen and being a right little bugger. But by 1.30am, he had settled down a bit. He was so tired from the day – it was a long and emotional day. I sat with him, holding his hand and he smiled, and kept saying he was sorry and ‘I love you’. I was holding him and kissing him and he took three gasps of breath and I said ‘it’s ok baby, you can now, and get out of the pain’,” she added
Scott died just after 1.30am, barely 13 hours after he’d married his sweetheart.
“I’ve worked as a carer most of my life and I’ve worked in nursing homes and done palliative care, and as deaths go it was the nicest death,” said Michelle, holding back the tears.
“I was only his wife for 13 hours, but now I’ve gained such an amazing family – my sister in law, brother in law, mother in law, cousins and a whole load of friends,” she said.
Now Michelle has to organise her husband’s funeral, in the same week that she had to organise their wedding, and has set up another GoFundMe page to help.
“I thought I had 20 or 30 years with him. He made me so happy for the last two years. He was happy-go-lucky, the sort of bloke that everyone remembered, always really friendly and would do anything for anyone to help – now I’ve got to do one last thing for him.
His mum Sue Dando rushed to be at his bedside when Michelle called last Monday. “We are struggling,” she admitted. “We have had seven days from hell.”
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