A Nova Scotia family is thanking their community for an outpouring of support after both parents were diagnosed with cancer only days apart from each other.

Jeff MacDonald was diagnosed last month with stage four colorectal cancer. Three days later, his wife, Jill, was diagnosed with bone cancer in her shinbone.

"All of the sudden we get this diagnosis about him, that he has stage four metastatic rectal cancer, and then three days later the pathology was back for my knee. And, you know, this was cancer too," Jill told CTV Atlantic in an emotional interview.

The couple has three children, aged 12, 10, and six.

As Jeff and Jill tried to cope with the devastating news, Jill’s childhood friend , Tina Costain, set up an online fundraising campaign for the family.

Costain set a goal of $40,000. In 24 hours, that goal had been surpassed. By Friday morning, the site had raised almost $70,000.

The response, Costain said, has been "overwhelming, amazing."

"It’s one of those moments where you have your faith renewed in humanity," she said.

"I could not believe how many caring people there are out there," Jill said.

Jeff, a department store manager, has inoperable cancer, Jill said. The fundraising site says he’s been given a prognosis of two years with radiation and chemotherapy treatment.

Jill, a Grade 1 teacher, says she has a treatment plan to recover from the disease. It includes radiation, chemotherapy, and surgery to remove the tumour.

"I need to get going with this treatment so that we can fight this awful disease and make sure that I’m going to be there for my children," Jill said.

Costain hopes that the funds raised might provide some relief so that Jill can focus on her health. The fundraising page says all the money raised will go into an account for the family so that they can use it whenever they might need "extra time off work, home care help during treatment, child care help while they are both undergoing treatment, and even a little family getaway to inject some normalcy and fun."

Beyond the money, Jill said, the messages of kindness and hope have been particularly moving. Strangers and old friends have left messages of love and sent thoughts and prayers to the family.

"I do not know you, but as a mother, I am very much wishing for your journey through this darkness to be over very soon," wrote one anonymous donor online.

"There are no words but may it help to know that many of your Nova Scotia neighbours truly care," wrote another donor who posted under the name Linda Gourlay.

Jill said she reads the messages every night before going to sleep, and that she wants everybody to know how much she appreciates the kind words.

"I want people to know how grateful we are and how thankful we are that there are so many kind people in the world," she said.

With files from CTV Atlantic's Jacqueline Foster