Twelve years ago, in a moment of deep personal crisis, I came up with an idea of how my family might get through a life-threatening ordeal. This week, in a moment of deep national crisis, that idea is coming to television in the form of a drama series on NBC. The eerie parallel between these two events has me thinking about what we all can learn about how to survive and thrive in times of hardship.

In July 2008, as a 43-year-old, newly married dad, I learned that I had a 7-inch osteogenic sarcoma in my left femur. This type of bone cancer is so rare it strikes only 800 people a year, most of whom are children. The afternoon of my diagnosis, I went home and my 3-year-old, identical twin daughters, Eden and Tybee, greeted me with a dance, twirling faster and faster, before they collapsed to the floor, laughing.

I collapsed with them. I kept imagining all the walks I wouldn’t take with them, the boyfriends I wouldn’t scowl at, the aisles I wouldn’t walk down. Would they yearn for my approval, my love, my voice?

Three days later, I awoke with an idea of how I might give them my voice. I would reach out to six men from all parts of my life and ask them to be present in the lives of my daughters. And I would call this group of men the Council of Dads.