There is never a good time to find out you have cancer. But the bad news couldn’t have come at a worst moment for expectant father Cagney Wenk.
Three weeks before his son’s due date, Wenk, 26, began suffering headaches. Doctors quickly diagnosed his brain cancer and began a grueling barrage of chemotherapy, radiation and surgeries.
On September 18, Wenk was in the ICU recovering from one of those operations. Doctors at Boulder Community Health in Colorado had cut away part of his skull to relieve pressure on the brain.
That’s when Wenk’s fiancee, Jessica Li, went into labor.
The hospital staff wheeled him a few floors to the labor unit so he could be there for the birth of his firstborn, Levon.
“They work so hard, all the nurses here. We could not do this without them,” Manette McReynolds, Wenk’s mother, told CNN.
“It was an extraordinary sharing between the units. This really brought out the best,” said Tracey Nagell, a nurse in the intensive care ward.
Sarah Boccolucci, a birth and maternity photographer, volunteered to document the child’s first hours. She was moved by the father’s overwhelming happiness.
“He was just so joyful and excited and clearly so in love with Jessica. It was really striking.”
There was no talk about cancer in that delivery room, only hope for a bright future — for everyone.
“Cagney was talking to his son. Telling him what he’s going to teach him and all the experiences they’re going to have. It was just really moving,” Boccoluci said to CNN.
“From the response on social media, I feel the outpouring of love toward the family, and I hope that they feel moved to help them in any way they can,” Boccolucci said.
Wenk’s exhausting fight against stage IV cancer continues. But now he has a son, a cherished memory and a boosted sense of gratitude for his hospital’s staff.
Boccolucci drew inspiration from Wenk’s example.
“Be thankful for everyday that we have here. Everyday is a gift. Whether it’s the miracle of a birth happening and a father being able to see it or celebrating your daughter’s birthday. Everyday is a gift.”