HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - Chad Caillet could not have been happier.
The Southern Miss grad just finished his second-year coaching hitters at his alma mater – a season which saw the Golden Eagles advance to their first College World Series.
But then, life threw the baseball coach a curveball.
"We just got back from Omaha, Nebraska and she got the phone call about an hour into the drive,” Chad said. “I can still hear her voice, hear those words and it was a whirlwind of a phone call, for sure."
Chad learned that his wife Jessica had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. The young, healthy couple with two young children were shocked and scared.
"We didn't know anything,” Jessica said. “We had just heard of cancer. We immediately thought this couldn't happen to somebody so young. I was only 32. I remember just wanting to sit there and crawl in a hole and not talk to anybody. We had two small children that were two and four. I knew I had to get up and deal with it."
The Caillets wouldn't deal with the disease alone.
Southern Miss and the Hattiesburg community put together a 5K run to raise money, and Jessica's team of doctors at the cancer center stepped up to the plate.
"It's a testament of what this place is about, what this community's about,” Chad said. “It truly is a family atmosphere in this town. Tough things happen, this community really sticks together."
A lot has happened in 10 years. Those toddlers are now teenagers. Jessica opened her own dance studio. Day by day, life goes on for the Caillets.
"We're extremely blessed to be sitting here today doing this interview,” Chad said. “She has the studio, she's doing what she loves, I'm doing what I love."
“When I was diagnosed, there was a small part of me that was like, I don’t know if I’ll get to do that,” Jessica said. “Now, that I’m sitting here. We’re going on our ninth year. I’ve actually talked to a lot of young girls that have been diagnosed in the past ten years, and I tell them all the same thing – try to take it day by day, don’t be scared and lean on your support system. Keep pushing.”