Alyssa and Michael Borland shared their experience with One Day to Remember.By Briana Smith

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — “We went to feed the reindeer,” said Alyssa Borland. “I think the boys ate as many carrots as they fed the reindeer.”

It was a special day at Keystone Safari for the Borlands because they don’t get these family days often.

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Michael Borland is battling stage 4 small bowel cancer.

“I was diagnosed February 2019,” said Michael. “[I] had some surgery and couple rounds of chemo. I was pretty much told I was cancer free at the time. Later, CT scans showed it was back.”

Michael receives chemotherapy every other week and said some weeks are better than others.

“It’s crazy at times, especially with the boys,” said Michael. “They’re 3 and 4 and a half. It’s harder on the days where I’m more tired. And then you get the questions, ‘Where you going today daddy?’ Just going to get some medicine to help daddy’s tummy feel better.’”

All while his wife Alyssa saves lives as the emergency department medical director at Butler Memorial Hospital.

“My schedule’s all over the place. I work days, I work nights, I work weekends,” said Alyssa. “It does get crazy. We fortunately have some very good support.”

Support from family and friends, but also the non-profit organization One Day to Remember.

“We provide a day out, a cost-free day out for families who have a parent with a life-limiting illness, so they get to enjoy quality family time,” said Executive Director Rachel Antin.

Antin was an oncology nurse when she met sick parents who longed for a day with their families without worrying about cancer and hospital bills. She then started the organization in 2016.

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She said nationwide, more than 3 million children under 18-years-old have a parent with cancer.

“I’m just grateful to be able to give back, to be able to give just this small piece and be a part of this journey for a small amount of time, and just give these people a break,” said Antin.

The Borlands had theirs at the safari, then went iceskating at Shadyside Academy, followed by a dinner date at Monterey Bay.
Families are transported by a limo and a photographer captures every moment.

“They got everybody skates, [and] got everybody helmets,” said Alyssa. “They actually made some jerseys for us to wear with our names on the back, and the boys got to ice skate for the first time.”

The Borlands learned another lesson that day:

“It taught us the importance of making that time to have just the 2 of us or the time to spend with family,” said Michael. “Up until that point, we haven’t really done that a whole lot.”

The true meaning of family time and life.

“They can take their own pictures and they can still do it because we don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow any of us,” said Antin. “So we should all live in the moment, and we should all take advantage of what were here today to do.”

The Borlands are ready to create many more days to remember.

Antin said they helped more than 100 families and had 50 outings so far this year, with more being scheduled.

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Here is more information on the organization and how to apply or refer someone to have one day to remember.