(CNN) – One North Carolina couple was in for the fight of their lives when they found out their daughter had cancer.
But she wasn’t the only one who would fall ill.
As first responders, Christina and Duane McKay have devoted their lives to helping others.
They see people through their most difficult moments.
But last October, their own lives took a terrible turn when their daughter Maddi was diagnosed with cancer.
“It was the worst day of our lives, I think. We didn’t know she was going to make it,” said Christina.
Christina leaned on Duane.
They also found support from their first responder family, and others dealing with childhood cancer including the Fannins, also from Johnston County, whose son Mason has leukemia.
The two families were there for each other through treatments, hospitalizations and surgeries.
The McKays were already at the hospital with Maddi when a doctor gave Duayne a startling diagnosis.
“’You have leukemia.’ And we just kind of looked at each other and I said ‘Wait, I already have one that has cancer.’ I think the hardest thing that he’s ever had to do in his life is to go to our child and go, ‘Hey, guess what? You know, dad’s going to be admitted for a while because I got cancer, too.'”
Now, father and daughter find strength in each other.
“I knew at that point I had to be the rock for my family,” said Christina.
But they’re never alone.
The Fannins asked for Christmas cards for the McKays.
And although they won’t be home for Christmas, they’ll be surrounded by love from all over.
And even in the midst of their fight, this family of first responders wants to encourage anyone going through a difficult time.
“You might have a bad day but there is good in every day no matter what situation you are in. You just got to have faith and never give up,” Christina said.
Things are looking up for the McKays.
Duane recently had a bone marrow transplant and Maddi is in the final stages of her treatment.
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