Mum who was ‘light in so many lives’ dies day after her wedding

A mum who was the “light in so many people’s lives” died the day after her wedding.

Gemeila Howard, also known as Gemma, lost her battle with cancer on Saturday 23 April at Willowbrook Hospice. The 39-year-old, from Huyton, spoke to the ECHO back in 2019 after she was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer and was set to undergo a major operation to help prolong her life.

She was later diagnosed with a Krukenberg tumour – a rare and specific type of tumour that grows in the ovaries – and told she had three months left to live. After she was given the devastating news, Gemeila decided to get married to her long term partner Antony Howard straight away.

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Their friend Sean Brien told the ECHO: “They got married on the Friday and she died on Saturday night. It was an amazing day it really was.”

Sean and friend David McAleny walked Gemeila down the aisle and gave her away on her wedding day – in a moment which he described as “the biggest honour of my life.” A fundraising page has now been set up to support Gemeila’s husband Antony and their daughter Freya, aged nine, and help to give her “the best send off.”

Gemeila was described as a "wonderful mum" who was a "light in so many people's lives"
Gemeila was described as a “wonderful mum” who was a “light in so many people’s lives”

The family would like to thank the HoneyRose Foundation, based in St Helens, for helping to pull the wedding together so quickly to give Gemeila “the day she deserves.”

Paying tribute to Gemeila, Sean said: “Mela was a life long friend who I will miss every second of every day. She was a wonderful mother and the light in so many people’s lives.

“She left a mark on every person she met and we’ll never be the same without her. All her family and friends, her husband Antony and her beautiful daughter Freya are heartbroken. She was loved by so many people.”

Gemeila with her husband Antony Howard and their daughter Freya, aged nine.
Gemeila with her husband Antony Howard and their daughter Freya, aged nine.

Despite everything she was going through, Sean said Gemeila, who worked as a charity support worker, “was always there for everyone.” She was keen to raise awareness of oesophageal cancer following her diagnosis by asking people to take oesophageal cancer awareness selfies to help highlight symptoms of the disease.

Sean said her husband Antony was always by Gemeila’s side after she was diagnosed and he has “stayed so strong” through it all. If you would like to donate to the Just Giving Page click here.