Elaine O'Brien, a 25-year-old mother of one from Limerick, brought her wedding day forward by one year because she was dying from a rare tongue cancer. She passed away four months later.
O'Brien (née Ryan) planned to marry her husband Pakie on August 7, 2014, the her parents' wedding anniversary. After her health began to deteriorate in mid 2013, the couple brought the wedding forward and married on August 7, 2013.
O'Brien, the mother of a four-year-old daughter named Lexi, was diagnosed with tongue cancer in May 2012.
“It started off like a little pimple on the side of her tongue. They told us in the hospital it is normally old people that would have been chewing tobacco all their lives that get it.
“It is very rare and especially in a young girl like Elaine who was 23 and a half at the time,” her aunt Hanora told the Limerick Leader.
She was put on high doses of medication and had a tube inserted into her stomach as she couldn’t eat.
“We would ask her if she was in pain and she would always say no. I used to go with her to her appointments and she would say, ‘No negativity’,” said Hanora.
After suffering from a hemorrhage in mid 2013, O'Brien was told by her doctors that nothing more could be done for her.
“They gave her the option that they could operate and take out the whole tongue and voice box but afterwards that she would be in a bed the whole time with tubes coming out of her with still no guarantee of life.
“I said to her then, “What was the one thing she wanted to do?” and she said she wanted to get married,” said Hanora.
A fundraiser was held and the Limerick charity Clare's Wish Foundation provided a wedding car, church music and photography.
Seven weeks later she and Pakie were married in Nicker Church. Their daughter Lexi was a flower girl.
“The wedding day was very special to Elaine because it was on the date she was always going to get married. She looked so beautiful and really enjoyed it. She organized it exactly the way she wanted it.
“If you didn’t know it you would never have thought she was sick. But we could see it in her eyes because we knew she was sick,” said Hanora.
O'Brien's condition deteriorated rapidly after the wedding. She died on December 20.
She was laid to rest the Monday before Christmas with the presents that were bought for her.
“We gave them to her a week earlier and told her to open them but she said she would wait until Christmas Day. She said she was really looking forward to them.
“We bought her jeans, jumper and pair of Ugg boots she was mad about. We put them into the grave with her,” said Hanora.
Two months before her death, O'Brien, a talented writer, wrote a poem which she knew would help bring peace to her loved ones after her death. Her cousin Heather Mawdsley read the poem aloud at her funeral Mass.
An excerpt references God's plan.
“He has one mapped out for you, so hold your head up high and go with the flow because what is around the corner any of us just don’t know, if your plan brings heartache and nothing but pain, dry your eyes and remember this - in heaven you have no pain.”
Hanora said she plans to frame the poem and place it on her wall.
O'Brien's family and friends will gather in Nicker Church for her months' mind Mass on January 25th, the day following what would have been the young woman's 26th birthday.
She is survived by her husband Pakie, daughter Lexi, mother Eileen, father Mike, brothers, sisters, extended family and friends.
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