CLAYTON, N.C. (WNCN) — As first responders, Christina and Duane McKay have devoted their lives to helping others.
They see people through during their most difficult moments, but last October, their own lives took a tough turn when their daughter Maddi was diagnosed with cancer.
“It was the worst day of our lives I think,” mom Christina McKay said. “We didn’t know she was going to make it.”
Christina McKay leaned on her husband.
“He kind of took the rock for our family,” she said.
The McKays 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.
News13’s sister station CBS 17 first introduced him earlier this year when he received hundreds of birthday cards.
“I feel like we gained a whole new family when Mason was diagnosed,” Ashley Fannin said.
The two families were there for each other through treatments, hospitalizations and surgeries at UNC Hospital. The McKays were already at the hospital with Maddi when a doctor gave Duane, a startling diagnosis.
“She said ‘um, you have leukemia’ and we just kind of looked at each other and I said ‘wait I already have one who has cancer’,” Christina McKay said.
“I think the hardest thing he’s ever had to do in his life is to go to our child and (say) ‘daddy’s going to be admitted for a while because of cancer too’,” she said.
Now, father and daughter find strength in each other.
“I knew at this point I had to be the rock for my family,” Christina McKay said.
But they’re never alone.
“We felt like we needed to take care of them like they’ve taken care of us at times,” Ashley Fannin said.
The Fannins asked for Christmas cards for the McKays — and although they won’t be home for Christmas, they will be surrounded by love from all over.
“People that we’ve never met that are that are constantly praying for our family,” Christina McKay said.
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,” she said. “Just got to have faith and never give up.”
If you’d like to send a Christmas Card to the McKays, here is the address:
Christina & Duane Mckay
Family SECU House 220
123 Old Mason Farm Road
Chapel Hill, N.C. 27517