Cancer survivor returns care to ill father - Dallas News |

Cancer survivor returns care to ill father

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Thirteen years ago, Gary Tole stood by his daughter's side as she waited for a bone marrow transplant -- her only chance to beat cancer.

At 26, that daughter, Janelle Tole, is a survivor, but now she's watching her father deteriorate.

For her family, it seems like one major medical battle after another.

"She was just my hero," said Gary. "The child was 8 years old and 50, 60 spinals, all the chemo, all the radiation and she never once cried for herself. She never once said, you know, ‘Why do I have this?'"

Gary was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis a year and half ago. Now, he's the one on a transplant list.

"It's like you've got this body that can go out and do a workout or be active, but because there's no oxygen inside, I just can't," said Gary. "I can't do anything really."  

Janelle's sister was the perfect transplant match for her. Now, years later, she's taking care of her dad.

"She really showed me what true grit is all about," said Gary.


"I'm just grateful that she's still with us, but [it's] very difficult seeing him go through this," said his wife, Cathy Tole.

"I don't want him to see me weak, ‘cause I was so strong for myself when I was sick that I want to be strong for him," said Janelle.

Gary remembers the night they brought Janelle home from the hospital after the diagnosis.

"She said, 'Dad, when little girls get sick, really, really sick, can they die?'" said Gary. "What do you say? It's an 8-year-old girl.  So, I said, ‘Well, you're not going to die. You're going to live.'"

For father and daughter, it's a strange switch. Gary is now struggling with medical bills, and all of his six kids are pitching in.

"We help with bills," said Janelle. "I have helped with property taxes, electricity…to keep it on so we can keep his oxygen going."

Gary could receive the call for a lung transplant any time.

With his condition getting worse by the day, the family is praying.  Meanwhile, friends and the community have been pitching in to pay bills and other expenses.

To help the family, visit

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