All Dennis Cockrell wanted to do was hold his wife’s hand as she endured chemotherapy, but the novel coronavirus pandemic made that impossible.
“Only patients were allowed in which was tough because I didn’t want her to feel alone,” Cockrell said. “But it’s the day we live in and I just tried to make the best of it.”
Diana Cockrell, a breast cancer patient at Bon Secours St. Francis Cancer Treatment Center in Greenville, South Carolina, was undergoing her third round of chemo on Monday and naturally Dennis and the couple’s kids -- Kate, Carly and Collier -- wanted to go along for moral support. But temporary visitor restrictions due to COVID-19 meant she’d have to go in alone, so the family got to work.
“She texted me she was in a windowed room in front of a grassy clearing so I knew she could see outside,” Dennis Cockrell said. “I thought I could sit in a lawn chair out there and we could still see each other.”
The Cockrell children helped their dad hatch his secret plan, making signs for him that read “IM HERE & I [HEART] U.” Dennis texted his wife to look out the widow once he was all set up, and as you can probably imagine, she couldn’t believe her eyes.
“All the sudden I didn’t feel so alone in the hospital room by myself,” Diana Cockrell said. “It was such a pleasant surprise; he's been the most wonderful supporter and he's made it all very bearable.”
The Cockrells live in Greenville and have been married for 23 years. Diana was first diagnosed with cancer in December 2019.
“He's seen me at my very worst but he's always shown me invincible love,” Diana Cockrell said.
But the love letters didn’t end there. A few nurses saw the touching tribute from Dennis and helped Diana write a message back, taping signs that spelled out “I [HEART] U” to the room’s window.
Besides being there in person, Dennis explained this felt like the next best thing.
“There is a feeling of being with someone that can’t be replaced,” he said. “This felt more like being in the room with her than a FaceTime somehow so it was something I had to do.”
“It was a good day,” he added.