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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Jeff Patterson says it was his strength and his wife’s strength that enables them to celebrate Christmas together as a family with their two young children.

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On May 3rd of this year he was seriously burned over more than 40% of his body while fighting a house fire on Chilton Drive in Dallas.

In this exclusive interview with the Patterson’s they explain how he survived and the secret she kept from him while he was in the hospital.

“It felt like I was basically cooking on the inside of my suit” Jeff Patterson says about the extreme heat and the burns that nearly killed him.

He survived thanks to other members of Dallas fire rescue who saw his glove through the front window of the house and the doctors and nurses at Parkland Hospital.

The Pattersons say they are astonished by all of the support they have received from people all over North Texas.

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Tina Patterson did not tell her husband that she was diagnosed with colon cancer while he was still in a coma.

“I felt like it was a nuisance” she says. “I said I cannot have this right now because every day of the week, despite my cancer, I thought Jeff was much more critical than I was.”

Their medical battles are not over, but the Pattersons tell CBS 11 News Reporter Stephanie Lucero that just being together for Christmas is the greatest blessing and the greatest gift of them all.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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