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Human Interest

North Carolina Neighborhood Celebrates Christmas Early to Honor Dying Woman’s Last Wish

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It’s not even Halloween and yet a neighborhood in Concord, North Carolina, is already decked out for Christmas. And there’s a really good reason why.

Christmas is Michelle Fadel’s favorite holiday. But the 57-year old knows she may not make it until then. She has stage 4 cancer and has spent the last few weeks in hospice after learning the clinical trial she was in wasn’t helping. Doctors told her they had run out of options.

“I told my husband that I really don’t want to miss Christmas. He told me he was gonna decorate,” Fadel tells PEOPLE.

So her husband, Daniel Fadel, started putting up lights outside their home and neighbors began to ask why.

“He told them he was decorating for me because we didn’t know if I was going to be here for Christmas. The next thing we knew our neighbors started putting up decorations, too!” she says.

Michelle and Daniel Fadel with their daughter, Holly Johnston.
Michelle and Daniel Fadel with their daughter, Holly Johnston.

The mother of three and grandmother of six was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010. After surgery, chemotherapy and radiation, she was briefly in remission, but the cancer came back in 2013, spreading to her bones, and earlier this year, to her brain.

Still, Fadel remains positive.

“I have a lot of reasons to be thankful. I’ve survived six years with cancer,” she says.

And this week, she says, she has been downright happy, regularly asking her husband to put her in the wheelchair and go with her on a tour of their neighborhood where 15 homes are decorated with lights, trees, nativity sets and more.

Courtesy of Michelle Fadel
Courtesy of Michelle Fadel

“My husband came home one night and said, ‘You gotta see what’s going on outside.’ We walked out there and hugged our neighbors and cried.

“I told them how much it meant to us to have them decorate. It’s just really pretty and knowing why they’re doing it is so special to us.”

Earlier this week, Fadel and her extended family celebrated Thanksgiving, complete with a turkey and all the stuffings. And when they finished, they walked outside their home to find a special surprise — a busload of Christmas carolers there to entertain them.

Despite 70-degree temperatures, the 30 church members wore Christmas sweaters and hats as they serenaded Michelle and her family.

“It was tear-jerking, it honestly was,” she says. “We were so blessed that they loved us that much — we could feel their love.”