PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — “We went to feed the reindeer,” said Alyssa Borland. “I think the boys ate as much carrots as they fed the reindeer.”
It was a special day at Keystone Safari for the Borlands as they don’t get these family days very often.
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Michael Borland battles stage 4 small bowel cancer.
“I was diagnosed in February 2019,” Michael said. “[I] had surgery and a few rounds of chemotherapy. I was then pretty much told I was cancer free. Later CT scans showed it was back.”
Michael gets chemotherapy every other week and said some weeks are better than others.
“It’s crazy sometimes, especially with the boys,” Michael said. “They are 3 and 4 and a half. It’s harder on the days when I’m more tired. And then you get the questions: ‘Where are you going today daddy?’ I’m just going to get some meds to make daddy’s tummy feel better.’”
While his wife Alyssa saves lives as medical director of the emergency department at Butler Memorial Hospital.
‘My agenda is going in all directions. I work days, I work nights, I work weekends,” said Alyssa. “It’s going to be crazy. We have really good support.”
Support from family and friends, but also the non-profit organization One Day to Remember.
“We are offering a free day out for families with a parent with a life-limiting illness so they can enjoy quality time with the family,” said Executive Director Rachel Antin.
Antin was an oncology nurse when she met sick parents who longed for a day with their family without worrying about cancer and hospital bills. She then started the organization in 2016.
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She said more than 3 million children under the age of 18 have a parent with cancer nationwide.
“I’m just thankful that I can give something back, that I can give this little piece and be a part of this journey for a little while, and just give these people a break,” Antin said.
The Borlands had theirs on the safari, then went ice skating at Shadyside Academy, followed by a dinner date in Monterey Bay.
Families are transported by limousine and a photographer captures every moment.
“They’ve got everybody skating, [and] everyone have helmets,” Alyssa said. “They even made us some jerseys to wear with our names on the back, and the boys got to skate for the first time.”
The Borlands learned another lesson that day:
“It taught us how important it is to make that time for just the two of us or the time to spend with family,” Michael said. “Until then, we haven’t really done that much.”
The true meaning of time and the life of the family.
“They can take their own pictures and they can still do it because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow,” Antin said. “So we all have to live in the moment, and we all have to take advantage of what was here to do today.”
The Borlands are ready to create many more unforgettable days.
Antin said they’ve helped more than 100 families and have taken 50 outings so far this year, with more planned.
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Here you will find more information about the organization and how to register or refer someone for an unforgettable day.