So God Made a Teacher Collection (Sale!) ➔

Life has a way of surprising us just when we least expect it. It may only take a second for our lives to be turned upside down, leaving us with a sense of helplessness – a dark grey cloud of defeat. Then, suddenly we can see through the smoke and a miracle comes before our very own eyes. The trials of life can bring a sense of perspective and peace, if only we take the time to discover them.

That dark grey cloud of defeat could have consumed one mother who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer while pregnant with her fifth child. It was one of those split seconds when a routine doctor’s appointment became much more serious in nature.

Michelle Cascio, a professional photographer and former fashion model, married the man of her dreams, Tim Cascio. The couple welcomed four beautiful children into this world. During Michelle’s fifth pregnancy, she began experiencing pain in her lower abdomen, which was not kidney stones like she believed, but was later determined to be a cyst in her pancreas. A few weeks later, while 21 weeks pregnant, Michelle underwent an invasive surgery that left her with an intensive amount of pain. The surgeons removed Michelle’s spleen and half of her pancreas. Post-surgery, the couple was left with a devastating diagnosis.

Michelle had an aggressive form of pancreatic cancer.

With this unexpected diagnosis, also came numerous medical decisions on how she would fight the cancer. The success rate against this invasive cancer was quite low even with chemo and radiation, which could not be attempted until after the baby was born. So Michelle and Tim decided to try a different approach – a holistic method. While working with doctors to adjust her diet and rest her body, she also accepted any and all prayers from family members and friends. In the midst of a terrifying situation, countless relatives, friends, and even strangers stepped forward to assist the couple in anyway.

A gofundme page, which raised over $50,000, was established to assist with the increasing medical expenses. An endearing young woman stepped forward to help Michelle during the day with the children’s homeschooling lessons and the household tasks while Tim was at the office. Families from their church, neighbors, and even concerned strangers brought over meals and made monetary donations. The overwhelming support was endless and deeply appreciated by the Cascio family.

“I can’t believe how caring and loving people are,” Michelle said. “People are so kind.”

Michelle gave birth to a full-term, healthy baby girl in March 2016. Given Michelle’s diagnosis, she had a beautiful delivery and swift recovery from childbirth, while also continuing her holistic approaches to fight the cancer.

On the day of Tim and Michelle’s tenth wedding anniversary, the couple took to Facebook Live and made a special announcement. Michelle had been recently admitted to the hospital for stomach pains, and after having two x-rays and a CAT Scan, the doctors informed the couple that she was cancer free! The couple took a moment on this special anniversary to celebrate and thank everyone for the support of prayers, monetary donations, and the immense generosity of time given by so many. Two weeks later this grateful mom and cancer survivor celebrated her birthday. The “best birthday ever,” she said.

Words cannot express my happiness and love for this special woman, a beautiful mother and wife, and now a cancer survivor – a true miracle. A life threatening diagnosis which at one time left the Cascio Family with many unanswered questions, has now brought peace and a sense of gratitude, for all suffering brings a silver-lining. What an exquisite role model for all women and mothers who are suffering with their own daily personal struggles. Thank you, Michelle Cascio, you are truly a gift!

Danielle Silva

Danielle Marie Heckenkamp is a stay at home mom and freelance writer who lives in the beautiful state of Wisconsin with her husband and four children. Danielle Marie is the co-author of Provocative Manners: The Sauce of Life, a book about common sense and manners. She is working to complete her first novel. Danielle Marie’s entrepreneurial spirit has led to owning and operating several small businesses in the past 10 years (a floral company, an art studio, and a not for profit), but with the birth of baby number four, she is now focusing more on family life. Danielle Marie spends any small coveted moment of quiet, which are pretty rare, writing about her passions: children, motherhood, marriage, and cooking. You can read more of her articles at http://www.daniellesilvaheckenkamp.com/

How Grateful I Am for a Mother Who Believed in Me

In: Cancer, Grief
Mother and grown daughter, color photo

It was a hot summer day sometime in the middle of high school. I was young and naive, but the ugly six-letter word was looming over our family: cancer. Although I didn’t know it then, this would be our last normal summer before my mother’s health would worsen. Cancer would give way to terminal cancer. It’s funny how something so big can seem so small in those moments. My mom and I were sitting on our back porch, encased in a narrow hedge of yew bushes. It was a yellow, lazy Saturday, and my brothers and father were at Cub...

Keep Reading

A Medical Diagnosis Challenges a Marriage

In: Cancer, Living, Marriage
Bald woman holding clippers over husband's head, color photo

It is no secret now that Albert Pujols and his wife have announced their divorce shortly after she had surgery to remove a brain tumor. As a breast cancer survivor, this news hit me in a special way. As I was reading through an article from Today, there was a quote that hit me hard, “But a marriage falling apart is far more common when the wife is the patient, researchers have found. A woman is six times more likely to be separated or divorced soon after a diagnosis of cancer or multiple sclerosis than if a man in the relationship is...

Keep Reading

When You’re Barely Hanging On, It’s OK to Ask For Help

In: Cancer, Living, Motherhood
Worn mailbox, color photo

I’m a bundle full of fun. My list of fun things include being diagnosed with cancer at age 33, having the BRAC1 gene mutation, doing six months of oral chemo, having a hysterectomy at 34, my ovaries and tubes out at 34, enduring a double mastectomy, and a million scans and procedures under my belt, followed by five months of oral chemo. I was a stay-at-home mom during this time with a 7, 5, and 2-year-old.  Sometimes I feel like I experienced a whole lifetime in one short snapshot of a year.   At the beginning of my diagnosis, our mailbox...

Keep Reading

This is What Cancer Looks Like

In: Cancer, Motherhood
Mother lying on bed with toddler sprawled across her, color photo

While I was going through active treatment and recovering from procedures and surgeries, certain moments during the day triggered this thought in my head, This is what cancer looks like. I envisioned a still shot of that moment and that title above it. One of the first times I had this thought was when I was lying on the couch watching my daughter play. I was fatigued and my heart was racing, but I was still a mom needing to supervise my 2-year-old.  She came over and held my hand.  This is what cancer looks like. In the days following...

Keep Reading

Cancer is Not in Charge

In: Cancer, Living
Mother with bald head holding child, color photo

My entire life, I’ve felt much pride and comfort in being a person who was highly organized, a planner, someone who truly enjoys predictability. When I was diagnosed with breast cancer, everything that encompassed my normal way of living was disrupted. And there was no way to fix it. This was not a good feeling—frankly, it sucked. I’m a stay-at-home mom of three young children. My first thoughts after my breast cancer diagnosis were how this was going to affect them. Would they even still have a mother in a year? These are terribly hard things to think about when you...

Keep Reading

But Dad, We Were Supposed To Have More Time

In: Cancer, Grief
Man smiling at camera

September 5, 2015 was one of the worst days of my life. It was the day I found out my dad had “it.” The word I expected but didn’t want to face.  Cancer.  Stage 4 in his lungs, bones, and spine. A week later we were told he had about six months left with us.  Six months.  A half of a year.  He was only 55. People nowadays can live to be over 100. How was it possible that he was only going to live half of a life?  They were going to be releasing him from the hospital so he...

Keep Reading

I’ll Never Go To a Seafood Restaurant With Her Again

In: Cancer, Grief
Woman alone at table

I am 19 years old and it is the smack dab middle of summer and I am sitting outside—al fresco—at my parents’ favorite restaurant at a small, round, wrought iron table on an uneven slab of cobblestone bricks. Ropes of twinkle lights hang above our heads and spool in circles around lush green plants in terra cotta pots in the corners of the courtyard. The stemware here is so thin I imagine one gust of air from a sneeze might shatter my glass into a million tiny pieces. RELATED: Don’t Take Your Mom For Granted—I’d Give Anything to Have Mine...

Keep Reading

An Open Letter To the New Cancer Mom

In: Cancer, Child, Loss, Motherhood
Oncology room childhood cancer

This is an open letter to the early days me—when my son’s cancer diagnosis was first spoken over him—and to any other cancer moms out there drifting, surviving, and rising through the trauma. The early days, those raw, pouring, dripping emotions fresh from Elijah’s diagnosis day, 2-year-old Elijah, my son. “It’s leukemia,” said the kind-eyed ER physician. His eyes were so big and brown, mirroring Elijah’s signature feature. Another signature feature of Elijah’s—his long curly beautifully golden hair—soon to be falling on pillows, on rugs, in bathtub drains, until the day he bravely said I am ready to shave it...

Keep Reading

Cancer is Something I Carry With Me Now

In: Cancer, Living
Woman showing scar on chest, black-and-white photo

Two years ago in the winter of 2019, I found out I had breast cancer. I was a young new mother and completely terrified. Fast forward to today and I am healthy, have an amazing thriving two-year-old, and am planning my wedding with my perfectly imperfect soulmate. My hair has grown back thicker and wavier even than before, my body is my own again. I have found the confidence to build my blossoming writing career from scratch and am happier than I have ever been. You hear about this happening, people turning their lives around after cancer. I’m not the...

Keep Reading

My Mother’s Love Will Never Die

In: Cancer, Grief, Loss
Mother daughter

The night my mother passed away, my sister and I, along with our families sat by her side. We held her hand as she took her last breath. We talked to her and lingered near her side until they came to take her away. It was so very sacred. I couldn’t believe she was really gone. She had battled uterine cancer and was staying at my sister’s home to be cared for full time for the last four months. I had arrived from out of state only two weeks prior, and we spent every minute together, day and night until...

Keep Reading

Get our FREE phone wallpaper to encourage you as the new school year begins

It's bittersweet for a mother to watch her child grow—but you both are ready to soar.