I spent my youth in the Navy, and when I got out I began working as a chef. I knew nothing and so I taught myself everything. I worked hard, and eventually worked my way up. I helped open one of the most prominent restaurants in Boston and in the meantime married my beautiful wife, Tammy, and helped raise our three children.
Cancer is never something you expect. After noticing some symptoms, my wife convinced me to see a doctor. He gave us the news: Melanoma. Suddenly, everything changed. Once you're diagnosed with cancer, your life will never be the same.
The chemo and surgeries left no room for my career. I couldn't work. My wife tried to keep working but it was too much — being my caregiver and raising our three kids demanded every minute of her time. Tammy worked harder than she's ever worked — but unfortunately, it wasn't for any pay.
With no income, we went through our savings and my 401k before hitting rock bottom. We had no money, but we still needed to eat. My wife knew about the food pantry through her work with a local nonprofit— but neither of us wanted to visit. We didn't think it was for people like us. Ultimately though, we swallowed our pride and did what we had to do to feed our family.
When I visited the food pantry, I realized I was wrong. It was for people like us — people who simply needed help during a tough time. By providing us with fresh fruits, vegetables, meat and more, the food pantry helped my family survive during a time when I was too sick to provide. I am incredibly grateful for their help. I can deal with cancer, but I'm not sure I could deal with my children going hungry.
These past few years have been devastating to all of us, but the good news is, I'm cancer free now. I still have a significant amount of physical therapy to go through before I can go back to work, but I'm hopeful I'll get there. With the support of my family, I know I can do anything. They've been my rock; my heroes. Together, we've persevered. Together, we've emerged from this challenge stronger, thankful and more hopeful than ever before.