Their name is synonymous with both grief and strength. The Swank family in North Idaho has had their faith tested in ways most of us could never imagine. In 2009, they lost their 17-year old son Drew following a football injury.
Now, their faith is being tested again as Drew's older sister fights for her life.
The Swank house in North Idaho is one of those idyllic places. On a recent February day, covered in snow, bathed in sunlight and filled with love. For 43-year old Tara Swank, it has been a refuge in a storm of unthinkable grief.
"Watching my youngest brother and sisters go through the death of their brother has probably hurt me as much as just my own hurt of watching my brother die," said Tara.
Reminders of Drew are everywhere in their home - in smiling pictures, in grieving hearts.
"It's horrendous, really," said Drew's mom, Patti. "There's no word for the heartbreak. I'm still not over Drew."
Drew was just 17 when a football injury ended his life. The oldest of eight and a critical care nurse by trade, Tara helped hold her family together.
"That's the one thing I've prayed for this whole time is that my family wouldn't have to go through another death," Tara said, with tears filling her eyes.
"Especially [not] my mom and dad."
Drew lives on in them and in the people whose lives he saved. Austin Fletcher has Drew's liver; Lee Blumenthal received Drew's heart. His organs bring hope and life to total strangers who now feel like part of this family.
"One of the organ recipients, not only did we get to meet him, but he received Drew's lungs and we got to listen to Drew's lungs with my stethoscope, which was phenomenal," Tara said.
Now, four years and five months after losing Drew, the Swanks face the fragility of life again. Two years ago, Tara was overcome with fatigue, then a sudden rash appeared on her chest. She knew something was wrong; a mammogram brought news she didn't expect.
"Lo and behold, not only was I diagnosed with breast cancer, but Stage 4 breast cancer," Tara said. By the time they caught it, ithe cancer had already spread to her liver. Tara's a nurse; she knew what that meant.
"When anybody in the medical field hears Stage 4, they automatically write you off," Tara explained. "Like, you're pretty much going to die. So, I was frightened at first."
"She handled it much better than the rest of us," Tara's mom Patti remembered. "She just matter of factly when on and started talking to the doctor about what to do and what the plan was."
Tara went through six months of chemotherapy, then radiation for the tumors. She lost her hair, both breasts and, often, her strength. But, she never lost her will. She never lost her faith.
"No matter what the outcome, God is behind me," she said. "And, I just truly believe that with my whole heart."
Last April, things turned around. For a time, she was even in remission. But, last August, doctors discovered more tumors. Now, this family that is still grieving one child faces the possibility of losing another.
"I cry over [Drew] all the time," Patti said. "And, with Tara, it's a hard road. But, like Tara said, my faith is in God, my hope is in God. And trusting he's going to keep her here for many, many years."
Now, Tara has a new plan. Experimental treatment could give her another chance to live.
"My head isn't in the sad, I know what's going on," Tara explained. "If you look at the statistics, statistics aren't very good - but, I'm going to have even half a chance, I need to build my body up, so that's what I'm looking at now."
Tara is leaving the country for treatment insurance won't cover. This close-knit family rallies again, planning a fundraiser for next Saturday to cover the costs. And, they're getting help from an unexpected place.
"Right away, we were talking about how much are we sending," said Rocky Merryfield, a father and husband from Kent, Washington.
Merryfield is alive today - because of a young man named Drew Swank.
"We were sitting here one morning watching the news and it came on about Drew's accident in the football game," Rocky remembered about that day back in 2009. "We were like - God, what a tragedy. He's just a kid. And, a few days later, we got the call and I ended up with Drew's lungs."
Drew's death saved Rocky's life. He's part of the Swank family now. So, when he heard the news about Tara he did what family does.