Overheard on CNN.com: Salute to families with 'young warriors battling cancer'
Charles Daniel was a troubled 13-year-old when he finally found a family that embraced him. He died of cancer two years later.
May 7th, 2012
01:26 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Salute to families with 'young warriors battling cancer'

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Forest and Tremica Thompson brought reporter Wayne Drash and digital content producer Brandon Ancil into a very personal moment of their lives in January 2011: the last week of their adopted son's life. Charles Daniel battled brain cancer for two years, and then spent his last 19 days at George Mark Children’s House outside Oakland, California. Charles had come to live with the family in 2008, and received his diagnosis a few months later. The Thompsons invited CNN because they wanted to help other families going through similar ordeals.

Readers told us they were touched by this story of a family sticking together in a difficult time, and we in turn were touched by their heartfelt responses.

The gift of Charles

Some had lost a child, too.

James Martinez: "Amazing parents and family. The death of a child is so unnatural, there's nothing you can do to prepare for it even when you know it will happen. You gave Charles a beautiful life and you were with him when he left this earth, there is nothing more important than your children knowing you stand with them and love them unconditionally. Our love for our children stands the test of time and is everlasting. Your son is with you still, just not present. Don't think of him as being in your past, think of him as being in your future. You will see him again. My young daughter's cancer journey lasted just four months. We were by her side every step of the way and she remained positive as did we even when the doctors told us her time was ending. She died on Thanksgiving Day 2011, just four months after being diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. A 5 year old girl with ovarian cancer is something you never expect to hear as a parent. We miss her, as you do Charles, and we struggle each day to make it through. We are anguished by her passing and are angry at everyone, from the doctors who were helpless to save her to God for letting this happen. We know time will ease our pain and temper our anger, but we will never be the same. I wish you peace and comfort. God Bless you. God Bless every family with young warriors battling cancer."

Others said the story brought tears to their eyes.

James Robinson: "Thank you Forest for showing the world what it means to be a true man. Everything that could be said about your wonderful family has probably already been said here in some form, but I wanted you to know this story touched me on a very personal level and left me in tears, and as a journalism major who has read many many pieces, and written a few myself, this is the first story I can recall that has left me so full of emotion, and so glad to know there are people in this world like yourself and your beautiful family. As a father myself, you make me proud. Charles is still with you. Know that. He is there in your home, watching over you. What you do in life and how you treat others does matter. It doesn't matter how much money you make or what you do for a living, what you did for Charles is what matters. Folks like you are what matter. Thank you for sharing your story and peace, love and light to your family."

Several readers told us that a "real man" is someone who can really parent their child.

NewMexico763: "Forest Thompson is a real man. Any man can be a father, but it takes a real man to be a dad. Forest, I thank you for showing us the meaning of true love for those of our own and others. Tremica, you are precious in the eyes of parents worldwide for showing your love and care for Charles and your other children. Thank you for sharing your families love and thank you for allowing us to have a glimpse of Charles short life."

Nolan Wheeler: "Couldn't have said it any better. By the way, who is cutting up onions?"

It's the humanity of the story that stole our collective hearts.

supermodel: "I've never read anything from CNN that was this touching and wonderful. Please CNN report more stories like this. Alongside the stories of wars, famine, hate, and even the ridiculous stories about the clothes some silly celebrity decided to wear, report these stories as well. These stories remind us of the humanity, love, and grace that still exists in a world that becomes more scarier to live in by the day."

For those who've lost a family member, it was a chance to reflect and appreciate the wonder of life.

NTwoDeep: "This story truly touched my heart as it's one that is rarely reported these days. Many blessings to Forest, Tremica, and their children. Yes, I wholeheartedly agree, that Charles is an angel, who was 'on loan' to everyone who knew him and who now, have read this story. It's truly hard to watch a loved one 'pass' due to cancer. My Mom passed back in April 1997 and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about her. She died of lung cancer, and when I read this story, I truly "inserted" the names of my four siblings, my father and Mom, and yes, myself, for the names of Forest, Tremica, Charles, Trayshaun, Nate, Shaunee and Ariel. My 'Charles' was my Mom. Being a true "Momma's Boy", it's not hard to feel for the Thompson family, as the pain that each family member has, in the loss of a loved one, is just daunting. In my family, no one really wanted to air their pain and sense of loss with my Mom, but I did. Everyone wanted to be "brave", but I wanted my best friend to know that she would be deeply missed. I cried for hours, but my Mom just held me tight and said all would be just fine. And yes, she was right. My Mom is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, and Virginia will always be "home" for me, even though I've lived in Texas for some 25+ years now. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is buried in Virginia.

Each of us knows that one day, we'll each die. This story, is so very uplifting as it focuses on such a tremendous family and gives us all a sense of what is truly important in the world and in life. CNN, this is one of the best stories you've written and SHARED in years. This is the type of story that should be on the front page, everyday. To the Thompson family ... 'thank you' for sharing your love story with us. May God continue to bless each of you, as you have blessed those of us who are privileged to have read this article. Always in my heart ..."

The crying and the sobbing came from different places.

tiredofpc: "I found myself crying, even sobbing at times while reading the story. The crying was for the loss of Charles, a wonderful young man. The sobbing was both for the pain that the family felt while on this journey, but also for a deep appreciation for the strength and loving endurance that his family exhibited throughout. All of the family, Forest, Tamica, all of the children, what wonderful souls you have to open yourselves to love, first with Chalres, and now with your new 2 year old. God bless you all and thank you so much for sharing your story."

Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: California • Health • Health Care • Overheard on CNN.com • U.S.
soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Meir Weiss

    Reblogged this on Meir Weiss' Blog.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • ladydi

      cancer is such an ugly disease. Ive lost family members to it, and myself am a Breast cancer survivor. There's a place in heaven for Forest and Tremica and all the others who lost loved ones. They're walking beside you.....you cant see them but they're there. Look for the little signs.......a butterfly, a song, a smell, a chill in the air, etc........and smile, tell them you love them as they walk next to you.

      May 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Pete

      @ladydi the Thompsons are a very dearing and courageous couple,having share the fight with their child with cancer.I myself, a stage 4 cancer survivor getting chemotherapy 24/7 for eight months,can feel their pain.After beating this disease that doesn't discriminate,rich or poor,black or white,men,women or children,it still hurts my heart even greater seeing people as the Thompsons having to go thru this painful battle knowing well what the outcome is not in their favor.I know people say all the time life isn't fair,I know that as well as anybody ,never being sick and being diagnosed with cancer on all days,my birthday.Now my health is some what good and I'm taking care of my disabled son,a survivor of an auto/ motorcycle accident,who was comatosed for 8 months and having to start all over mentally and physically,the effects of being a TBI patient.But as long as he is happy and healthy,I'm happy too .Remember also,cancer is only a word,not a sentence.Life is what ya make it,just like the Thompsons who will be happy in the end with their just reward in heaven.God Bless you ladydi and so to you,the Thompson family ,take care.

      May 8, 2012 at 5:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. raven

    What an amazing family. I have no doubt the little girl will live a happy, well-loved life with them.

    May 7, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Not Me

    I hope they can do okay. I hope everyone can do okay. But my good wishes aren't going to help them much. They need good medical science, good health care, and a healthy enviroment. Who can get that sort of thing these days? Not me.

    May 7, 2012 at 8:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Robert Miller Phd

    Thank you for sharing your family story. Mr. Thompson, your wife, and your beautiful children are an inspiration to our family. Thank you for the example of your compassion, courage, and willingness to be truthful about the pain. We will never forget the story of the love you shared with Charles. You touched us deeply and remind us that our love and time together are the only important concerns in this world. You remind us that we all want the same things, safety, joy, learning, grace, and peace for our children and ourselves.

    all the best from our family to yours,

    May 9, 2012 at 8:30 am | Report abuse |