Friends and family are rallying behind a Hammonds Plains, N.S., family after both parents were diagnosed with cancer within days of each other.

Elementary school teacher Jill MacDonald said she found out she had a tumour in her knee in early June. While she waited for test results, she got the news that her husband, Jeff, had inoperable rectal cancer. Both are in their early 40s.

"It hasn't happened to one of us as parents, it’s happened to both of us at the same time. It feels like I'm living in a nightmare," said MacDoanld.

Friend Tina Costain wanted to do something for the couple and their three young children so they started an online fundraiser on Monday that has already raised more than $46,000.

Costain said she doesn't want money to be a worry.

"Anything they need to pay their mortgage, to pay their bills, to have home care, to have child care, take vacation with their kids," she said.

MacDonald said she's overwhelmed by the support.

"It's just mind-boggling how many people, that I don't even know, that have heard our story are showing kindness," she said.

MacDonald said she is uncomfortable with accepting the money, but knows down the road, she and her husband may need it.