CLEVELAND -- This Thanksgiving, Josh and Lisa Marie Cantwell will gather around the dinner table this year and give 'thanks' for life.
In the months before the holiday season of 2011, the young couple was faced with not one, but two struggles that involved near-death experiences.
Lisa Marie was nearly 7 months pregnant with the couple's third child when physicians at Cleveland Clinic told her that natural childbirth was not an option.
Dominic, their unborn son, had developed a rare congenital cyst on his airway that continued to enlarge as Lisa Marie's pregnancy progressed.
Dr. Paul Krakovitz, a pediatric ear, nose, & throat specialist, became concerned that the newborn would not be able to breathe when he was born.
A plan was put in place with the help of the Special Delivery Unit, to deliver the baby via C-section and then immediatly operate on Dominic. Now they just had to wait until it was time.
Meanwhile, one day, Josh was playing on the floor with his two little girls when he placed his hands on his chest to catch his breath, and to his dismay, he felt a large, hard mass on one side of his chest cavity.
A visit to the doctor revealed the worst possible news. At age 35, and in the midst of a crisis involving his wife, Josh was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
The cancerous mass was the size of a basketball.
Josh decided his treatment would wait until after Dominic's birth. When the baby arrived, Dr. Krakovitz decided surgery was not immediately needed and let the family go home with the baby.
Two and a half weeks later, the cyst rapidly grew and emergency surgery was needed. Dominic came through it just fine.
Now it was time for Josh to take care of his own health. Three days prior to Thanksgiving in 2011, Josh underwent surgery. The tumor was so large and connected to so many things, Dr. Matthew Walsh had to remove the tumor, Josh's entire stomach, gall bladder, spleen, 75 percent of his pancreas and 25 percent of his liver, then rebuild a stomach using part of his intestines.
According to Josh's oncologist, most surgeons would have deemed Josh inoperable. A year later, Josh is completely cancer-free and ready to give thanks this holiday season.