‘He’s too good of a father not to be one in heaven,’ Faith helps family cope with tragedy

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CEDAR SPRINGS, Mich. (PIX11) – Tragedy struck a West Michigan family twice — six months after they lost a child, the baby’s mother is now preparing to say goodbye to her husband.

Almost a decade ago, Jake and Kelly Francis endured a scare just after they started dating — doctors diagnosed Jake with testicular cancer.  “He did amazing,” Kelly told FOX17.  “One round of chemo and kicked its butt.”

With Jake cancer free, the couple were able to focus on their future together, and married in 2007.  Two years later, they again had reason to celebrate, “When you reach five years of not having cancer, you’re considered cured,” Kelly said.

But it was not long after that they would receive some devastating news.

Doctors told Jake that he had contracted a different, more dangerous testicular cancer that couldn’t be treated.  They told Jake the cancer would ultimately kill him.  Despite the grave diagnosis, however, Jake and Kelly still wanted to have a family before he was gone.

Kelly soon became pregnant with twins, a boy and a girl.  “I was so overwhelmed and blessed of course and feeling so grateful that I had two children,” Kelly said. “But, I was scared because I knew someday I’d be raising them on my own.”

As Jake’s condition worsened, doctors had more bad news for the couple — their daughter Avery had multicycstic dysplastic kidneys that would prevent her lungs from growing.  Avery died just a little more than an hour after she was born.

Doctors tell Jake he has six months to live, and the couple are going to spend as much of it as possible with their boy, Evan.  “Their hearts are just so genuinely good and caring and loving,” friend McKenzie Pepper told FOX17. “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.”

“I feel like we were blessed with twins because Jake is too good of a father not to be one in heaven,” Kelly said.  “He gets Avery in heaven and I get Evan here.”

Pepper told the station she has created a fund raising account for the couple using paypal.  Anyone interested in donating is asked to visit the site and donate to kenziepepp@gmail.com.

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