Watching David lose fight with cancer after we wed was torture, says widow
As Katy Smith's cancer-stricken husband stood with her at the altar for their wedding, she was unaware how near the end was, she tells Stephanie Bell
Portadown man David Smith, who lost his battle with cancer on Saturday, just two months after being granted his final wish to get married, will be "missed by everybody" his heartbroken widow Katy said last night.
And grieving Katy (34) revealed she believes her "big gentleman" husband had kept himself going so that he could fulfil his final wish to marry her in November.
David's condition started to deteriorate rapidly after their wedding in Katy's home town of Rochdale in November. David later said it was the "best day ever".
Katy said the last few weeks watching him succumb to the disease were "torture".
She says: "I think he really was holding on for the wedding. I always worried about the ceremony and that he wouldn't be able to stand up that long and I had asked for two chairs, but he insisted and said he had been practising and would stand and he did.
"He had been getting weaker but we didn't realise how much and shortly after the wedding he took an infection and was in hospital.
"He was quite sick over Christmas and the last few weeks have been torture and it is a blessing he went when he did.
"I am just so grateful he was able to pass away at home like he wanted to and I wouldn't have been able to do that without the support of family and the Marie Curie nurses who really were second to none. I couldn't have done it without them."
The couple met 10 years ago and were engaged but put the wedding off to save for a house.
David (34) was diagnosed with brain cancer five years ago and came through surgery and grueling treatment only to be told last March that the cancer had spread and was terminal.
With time running out he said his last wish was to get married to Katy and with the help of the charity Gift of a Wedding his wish was granted.
Strangers and business people rallied to give the couple a day to remember with flowers, a wedding cake, a band, decorative horseshoes and even a dress donated.
David said at the time: "It is my dying wish to marry Katy. We had our first date in Manchester city centre.
"I proposed to Katy nine years ago, but we decided to delay getting married so that we could save up to buy a house.
"The past five years have been very difficult for us all, but Katy has sacrificed so much to care for me. I feel like I have held her back in so many ways.
"She really is my best friend. If it wasn't for Katy and our son, I would just give up."
This week Katy said she was keeping herself busy but already was finding it a struggle to get used to life without her husband.
She described David as a devoted father who since his diagnosis did his best to create lasting memories for their son Daniel.
She hasn't ruled out returning to England, but is reluctant to take Daniel away from his school and friends. She says: "Danny was David's world and is why he fought for so long. He was glad he got to see him start nursery school and he just wanted to create memories for him which he did with the wedding and our last Christmas together.
"Danny is in nursery in Portadown Integrated Primary and they have been amazing. They have got counselling sorted and his teacher has even got special training in coping with a child's grief.
"He understands his daddy was very sick and he saw him go downhill so much. He does have his wee wobbles and he is only four and I would like to keep the support there for him.
"My parents have been here for some weeks supporting us and I will go home with them for a few days later this week but I don't know what the future holds now.
"It is hard. I keep imagining David in a different room in the house shouting for me and I'm trying to keep going this week by keeping busy.
"David was so strong and so generous with everybody. He always had time for everyone and had friends from all walks of life. Everybody called him a 'big gentleman' and he is going to be missed by everyone."
Over 170 people joined David's family for his funeral service in Joseph Poots & Sons on Monday, followed by his burial in Kernan Cemetery.