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!

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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/

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