Father’s vulnerability gives him strength to face the unimaginable

Cancer, Fatherhood, Hope

Sometimes the day-to-day of our lives can feel repetitive. We go through motions, live the routine, taking for granted the “normality” of it all. But then sometimes a bomb gets dropped on our lives and in an instant everything changes.

In Episode 9 of The Facing Project Show we hear from two storytellers. One a woman who literally had a nuclear bomb dropped on her life, and another from a father whose son unexpectedly fell ill with a rare and aggressive brain tumor.

The father, Brad Daugherty, is a friend of The Facing Project, and we watched Brad’s nightmare unfold in real time. We weren’t alone. Brad, despite his initial reservations, shared it all on social media and in-person. He bared it all–the emotional burden, the financial struggles, his faith. And a really amazing thing happened.

Brad’s vulnerability gave others strength.

“As a business owner I was always hesitant to share about my personal life, but I shared this journey with the world. Someone told me the other day that they had reached a point where they wanted to end their own life, but because they saw God’s miracles through Christian’s story they kept going and now they have a renewed faith. People help us. We help people. Together we help each other.”

You can see more photos from Christian’s story at Madeline Grosh’s website. Madeline is our former intern who has been following Christian’s story for months. We’re so proud of her important work telling this amazing story through photos.

You can read Brad’s story below.

Want to talk about it? Join our Facebook Group where we talk about podcast episodes, discuss stories and issues, and take action as a community. If you or someone you know needs help, scroll down to the Get Help section at the end of this post.

The Worst and Best Days of My Life
Brad Daugherty’s story as told to Ruthie Shellabarger from “A Midsummer Night’s Narrative: Stories of Unity in Delaware County, Indiana. A Facing Project Storytelling Festival.” Performed by Bill Inman.

October 23, 2017
Day 1
Suddenly, there was a howl coming from outside our bedroom door. It wasn’t the sound of arguing kids, but a shrill, soul-piercing scream of agony. I jumped out of bed and opened the door only to find my youngest son, Christian, writhing in pain. “What do I do? What is happening?” I thought. I felt so helpless. I picked him up in an effort to comfort him, but he just kept screaming. He let out one last excruciating scream and then his body went lifeless. “How could this be happening to our son? He’s only 6 years old.”

I have never been so scared in my life, but I kept reminding myself that God will get us through this.

November 3, 2017
Day 11
Christian was losing blood. They gave him two units and then four. They had cut open his skull and had to remove tissue from . . . my son’s brain . . . to get to the fast-growing tumor. If the swelling didn’t go down, we’d lose him. There would be more surgeries, but that night I sat next to him and listened to his heart blip on a machine that sounded like an old Atari game. His heartbeat was my own therapy. Sometimes it was shallow, but sometimes it was so strong that I worried it would beat right out of his chest, but I continued to listen. I have learned how to tell when the beat is off and something is wrong, which is comforting for me because I feel like I am doing something to help. I stayed up all night listening, finding comfort in each beat, never knowing if it would be the last.

The doctor told us that the tumor was malignant and aggressive. It was rare. In that moment, my wife and I fell to the floor. I told her, “We can’t get mad at God through this.” As I said this, his nurse came to the surgery waiting room and just cried with us. That evening, she sent me the song “Miracle.” The words “don’t you give up on a miracle” . . . I clung to them.

November 22, 2017
Day 30
There are never normal days at Riley. You either have a really good day or a really bad day. Today was Christian’s third surgery, and I prayed it was a good day. As I walked through the halls of Riley Hospital, I thought about the past month and how much we had gone through. I do a lot of walking these days. Sometimes, I even stop to talk to a statue of a man on the first floor. . .

My friend Ashli started a GoFundMe for us. I felt bad about sharing it on Facebook. I am not the kind of man to ask others for help, but I didn’t know what to do. The bills just kept getting larger and larger. I am so thankful for all the help I’ve received from my community. I just feel like I don’t deserve it; it’s hard for me to ask for help. After the surgery, while Christian was in recovery, I paced the halls past other parents. You could tell on each of their faces if it was a good day or a bad day. The surgery was as good as it could be. I guess today was a good day. God is good.

December 6, 2018
Day 44
Christian’s following has grown exponentially. So many people have reached out to tell us how Christian’s story has impacted their lives. It is nice to know that some good has come out of this situation. My friend Patrick told me he wanted to do something for my family. I had no idea he would put together an auction for us. All you ever hear on the news are bad things, bad people. A bad thing happened to our family and all of these people—good people—have been helping us. Politics, religion, race, none of that matters. Right now all that matters is the community coming together to help. Albany Elementary where the kids go to school has been amazing. People visited us. People we don’t know visited us. People from around the world reached out to me on Facebook.

People. Are. Good.

December 28, 2017
Day 66

Albany gave Christian a hero’s homecoming. Albany Emergency Services escorted us with fire trucks. When they pulled up, Christian’s best friend popped out. We are so excited to celebrate Christmas with the kids. It has been a hard few months, but I think this will be the best Christmas yet. We have two Christmas trees, each given to us by different people. Presents are scattered throughout the floor. If it weren’t for our school or church we may not have had Christmas at all.

I cannot describe the joy in my heart. Christian went to bed and asked if we could sing “Good Good Father.” Of course the answer was yes. My heart filled as our entire family sang together, reunited at home at last. Tears welled in my eyes. It was by far the most precious sound I have ever heard. Today was a good day.

We are so blessed. God is good all the time.

January 27, 2018
Day 96
The minute I walked into the auction, tears filled my eyes. I have never seen so many people surrounding our family with love. I am so overwhelmed with love and support. Then when Patrick handed me the check at the end of the auction, I just sat out in the parking lot for a few minutes. We will not have to worry about medical bills, travel and food expenses, or how much time we had to be off work. It was so overwhelming. I wish everyone could feel loved like this.

February 2, 2018
Day 102
I picked up the mail, just like any other day, when I noticed a letter from someone in New York. I don’t know anyone from there. I opened the letter and, to my surprise, a check fell out for ten thousand dollars. I couldn’t believe it. It was from the son of a famous painter. The fact our story has impacted so many people all over the world is a miracle in itself. To imagine a person not knowing us at all writing out that check, addressing the letter, putting on the stamp, and sending it to us. I am still in complete shock.

As a business owner I was always hesitant to share about my personal life, but I shared this journey with the world. Even though our story looked like it wasn’t going to have a happy ending, I always trusted that God had a plan for us all.

This story has reached so many and God has used it in so many ways. Someone told me the other day that recently they had reached a point where they wanted to end their own life, but because they saw God’s miracles through Christian’s story they kept going and now they have a renewed faith. People help us. We help people. Together we help each other.

God has allowed me to see so many amazing things, and I am truly in awe of Him.

I tear up just thinking about all that has happened. These past few months have been the worst and best months of my life. I have been able to share my faith in a way that was not abrasive. I am so blessed.

God is good, all the time.

What is The Facing Project?

The Facing Project’s mission is to create a more understanding world through stories that inspire action. Inspired to get involved after reading this story? Here’s how you can help.

DONATE: Your donation will help support storytelling projects around the country. On average a $10 donation helps produce one story like the one you just read, and a donation of $200 can help help us support an entire community project.

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