Newport News, Va. – A Newport News family is experiencing the unthinkable.
Two of five children are currently fighting cancer and their father died unexpectedly on Sunday.
But in the midst of the grief, it’s the kindness from complete strangers that’s helping the family get through this difficult time.
First, it was 6-year-old Emma.
“That was a shock in 2010, on Christmas Day, we found out our daughter had leukemia,” says Michelle Bulich, the mother.
Just as she finished more than 3 years of cancer treatments, 5-year-old EJ was diagnosed with neuroblastoma.
“Everyone said childhood cancer is rare, well it’s not that rare if two children in a family can have it,” says Bulich.
Through it all, Michelle Bulich leaned on her fiancé and partner of 7 years, Ed Barcus.
But Ed had his own medical problems with a history of seizures.
“He gets them when he is under a severe amount of stress,” says Bulich.
After being fired from his job, combined with the constant visits to CHKD, the stress proved to be too much for Ed.
This past Sunday, Michelle found him in their bed, unconscious.
Paramedics couldn’t save him.
“My fiancé, their father, the only father my other two kids have ever known, and it’s been difficult. I try to be strong for them and everything but it is really hard,” says Bulich.
That struggle, though, is becoming a bit easier, after hundreds of complete strangers heard about Michelle’s story and took action to help.
Another CHKD mother started a Facebook group for the family and soon yard sales, donation jars, and online fundraisers popped up everywhere.
“They are rallying around us, supporting us, and it’s overwhelming,” says Bulich.
They are doing it all in memory of Ed so the family can lay him to rest.
“Even though he is not here, he is always with us, always taking care of us,” says Bulich.
But cancer doesn’t care that daddy is gone; EJ is still going through his latest round of chemotherapy treatments.
Michelle is doing her best to keep her kids in good spirits. Today, she initiated an impromptu water gun fight in the hospital room.
Now she knows the importance of enjoying every moment.
“It’s changed my point of view on life,” says Bulich. “You never really know the last time you see somebody is really going to be the last time you see somebody.”