March 27, 2014 at 1:50 PM ET
Elisa Bond passed away on Wednesday.
TODAY viewers will remember her as a guest on the program, twice, in what was a story of both heartbreak and hope. It was a story that touched people all over the world. Three years ago, Elisa and husband, Nate, parents of a toddler, received life-threatening cancer diagnoses within just days of each other.
What were the odds? Nate's was stage 3 rectal cancer. Elisa's was stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
But to meet them, you didn't feel despair. They were optimistic and so were their friends, who began coming from all corners of the country to drive them to doctors' visits and help take care of Sadie.
They created a website to update others on Elisa and Nate's treatment and branded themselves "Team Bond." Eight months later, after an aggressive treatment, they were back on TODAY sharing the news they had dreamed of, but were unprepared to hear: She had no active cancer. By this time, Nate had been through surgery and treatment and was well on his way to recovery. It felt like Christmas came early, they said. Tens of thousands of people who had been following their story agreed.
It turned out to be a brief respite. Elisa’s cancer returned and spread. She is finally out of pain.
In a couple of decades of covering everything from hurricanes to terrorist attacks, few stories — and people — have touched me more than the Bond family. I had an immediate connection with Elisa. We became friends. She was in Brooklyn and I was in Houston but we traded Christmas cards, emails and long-distance affection. Maybe it was because my own mom and dad were similarly diagnosed with cancer when I was young — and when there was good news for Elisa, I was giddy with hope that she would not leave a little girl without mommy, that she would beat the odds my mom could not.
Elisa and Nate Bond faced unimaginable heartbreak with infinite grace. At TODAY, our thoughts are with Nate, Sadie and their extended "family" of friends.