His wife had terminal cancer. His friend moved in to help. The true story behind the film Our Friend.
Posted in , Jan 22, 2021
When his wife, Nicole, was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer, Matthew Teague knew he couldn’t handle it all alone. Hospital visits, treatments, medications; Nicole would need consistent support. Plus, they had two young daughters to care for. How could Matthew do it all? Enter Dane Faucheux, a close friend of the couple since their college days.
After Nicole was diagnosed in 2013, Dane left his home in New Orleans to move in with the Teague family in Fairhope, Alabama. He stayed for more than a year.
Matthew shared the details of their harrowing journey in a 2015 Esquire article which details the incredible sacrifices Dane made to help see them all through this tragic time.
“The medicine was a full-time job,” Matthew said in a recent interview. “The changing of IV bags, administering of pills... For months I didn’t sleep more than 15 minutes at a time. I was lapsing on things, like making sure my kids were brushing their teeth. Dane took that on.”
Dane came along on hospital visits, stayed with their daughters during the late-night hospital trips, did the cleaning, cooking, laundry, and grocery shopping. He was also there for Matthew. Dane would remind him to sleep or to eat and at one point even arranged a hiking trip for the two of them so Matthew wouldn’t burn out.
“Cancer has a way of stripping away your illusions about your abilities and your dignity,” says Matthew. “You are left with nothing but a request for help.”
Not only did Dane help—he went above and beyond. He left his life in New Orleans -- his home, his job, his girlfriend, his friends—to help Matthew with the overwhelming tasks of caregiving. And he did it without being asked.
“What Dane did was selfless,” says Matthew. “It gets to the heart of the Christian story. An act of great sacrificial love.”
Yet even Dane couldn’t stop Nicole’s steady decline. No matter how many meals he prepared or late-night talks he engaged in, he couldn’t stop Matthew from losing his wife. In the face of Nicole’s passing, Matthew needed to turn to something else: his faith.
“When I think of my faith, I think about when my daughters were small and when I held them, how they would throw themselves around carelessly, knowing that I had them,” says Matthew. “But when there was a loud noise, they would grip onto me. During that time, I held onto God in that same desperate way.”
In the time before and after Nicole’s death, Matthew studied theology to better understand what his faith could teach him about this experience. In many ways, it was his only lifeline. And it offered something that can be scarce when a loved one has a terminal illness. Hope.
“Without faith, there would only be the prospect of oblivion,” he says. “Through faith, my girls and I have the hope of something on the other side. We have the certainty that their mom is in a place of great joy. Our faith was essential to our survival.”
The trio’s story gets to the heart of what it means to love someone and how faith in each other and God can carry people through even the most difficult times. For Matthew, none of it would have been possible without Dane.
Since Nicole’s passing in 2014, Dane has returned to New Orleans and Matthew has been working on the movie about their incredible story. The two are close friends to this day. Our Friend, which opened in January, stars Casey Affleck as Matthew, Jason Segel as Dane, and Dakota Johnson as Nicole.