Cancer Recurrence Reminds Family to Make Each Day Count

Pictured above are Mara, Tia, Sidney and Todd Newcomer in a 2022 Family photo.

As parents of young children know, juggling a toddler while also being pregnant can be an exhilarating and exhausting experience.

Then there’s a cancer diagnosis.

For Tia and Todd Newcomer, cancer reared its ugly head during what should’ve been a special time for them both.  

“I was pregnant with our second child when he came to me and felt something, a weird bump,” Tia recalls.

It wasn’t Todd’s first cancer diagnosis—long before he and Tia met, he’d gone through treatments in high school, giving his class commencement speech with a bald head from chemotherapy.

Thankfully, this time around, they’d caught it early. The prognosis was good, but Tia remembers Todd’s reluctance to tell her about it. “He is a caregiver by nature—a firefighter and a paramedic,” she explains. “He was thinking ‘my wife is pregnant; how do I tell her about this?’”

To top it off, the couple hosted Thanksgiving that year, the holiday taking place shortly after they and their families received the news. Though the Newcomers were optimistic about the outcome, their families were in a different place with it.

“Everyone was looking at us with pity,” Tia remembers. “My role was protecting him, but also helping him to see that you have to let other people feel, even though you might not be in the same place as them.”

Todd and Tia Newcomer with their daughter Mara (and their future daughter Sidney).

As Todd went through treatment, Tia reflects on the closeness they gained because of sharing that experience, an unexpected blessing of caregiving. “When cancer comes into your life, there is no filter, which means there is a deeper, purer connection with the one you’re caring for,” she explains. “You have to be really raw and really real because there is no other choice. When you’re facing long-term health issues, debt, lost wages, career changes, on and on—there’s a deeper connection.”

Tia also recalls a moment early on in their relationship, a mantra Todd lived by because of his first cancer diagnosis at a young age. It became a blessing in her life, a mantra she herself would live by not only through Todd’s diagnosis, but also as she made decisions on where to put her professional focus.

“What you do today is important, because you exchange a day of your life for it.”

And the burdens?

The unexpected blessings were surprisingly bountiful for the Newcomers as they navigated this experience together.

“You have this community of family and friends surrounding you, with the best intentions,” Tia says. “But it can be hard to deal with other’s thoughts and feelings when they’re projected onto you.”

Tia wished there were some way she could have a boundary, a filter where the thoughts and feelings of others were accessible to her when she was ready and prepared for them.

CaringBridge as the next big step

A number of years later, with Todd well into remission and their two daughters thriving teenagers, Tia discovered CaringBridge.

“CaringBridge allows you to process your feelings and share on your own terms. It acts as a buffer, so you don’t have to be receiving that energy in person, but you’re still receiving energy.”

Having a site during Todd’s health journey would’ve helped Tia tremendously in creating a meaningful boundary.

“That’s the power of CaringBridge,” Tia reflects, “The ability to communicate your own journey at your own time and receive the pure support from others in the form of comments and Well Wishes.”

Understanding the power of CaringBridge in a very personal way, Tia jumped at the opportunity to get involved professionally with CaringBridge after a friend sent her the CEO job opening she thought Tia would be perfect for.

“In that moment, I felt that all that I’d done career-wise led me to this role.”

CaringBridge CEO Tia Newcomer with CaringBridge Founder Sona Mehring in June 2021.

Now, her focus is on ensuring that other family caregivers receive the support she needed back then through CaringBridge.

“People come up to me and say, ‘I hate that I have to use CaringBridge, but I’m so thankful it’s there,’” she says. “When you feel like people are going to be looking in with pity for you, it’s so helpful to process that and then communicate it out. CaringBridge enables that boundary setting for you.”

Through it all, Tia remembers the mantra her husband shared with her back in their early dating days, taking those words and the lessons she learned through caregiving and weaving them into her daily life as the CEO of CaringBridge.

“What you do today is important, because you exchange a day of your life for it.”

And every day, Tia exchanges a day of her life to provide support to family caregivers throughout the world in their most difficult times.

  • Mike T

    Such a touching story, thank you Tia!

  • Moe Carrick

    Thank you for bravely sharing your story, Tia! CaringBridge is lucky to have you! And your family rocks. 🥰