What do Oprah, Drew Carey and Kristen Milligan all have in common?
Answer: they all have, or will, participate in a Marine Corps Marathon endurance event. Oprah ran an impressive 4:29:15 MCM in 1994, Drew participated in the MCM Historic Half Marathon this past May, and Kristen is running in the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon this October 30th. What do these three NOT have in common?
Probably a lot of things … but the thing I’m thinking about is that only Kristen has taken on this challenge while living with a life-threatening diagnosis of advanced liver cancer. Her battle cry is to “Live Weak” as she accomplishes the unthinkable… covering 26.2 miles only one short year after MAJOR surgery that removed numerous tumors wrapped around heart and pulmonary arteries and that dotted her lungs. It’s an unattainable goal in human thinking. But I have recently seen Kristen reach new heights of fitness that I would have thought were impossible for her.
Kristen has also reached heights that many of us only dream of in her attitude towards and understanding of living as a young mother diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Peace exudes from her being.
Kristen and Deric Milligan are co-founders of Inheritance of Hope. Both will be joining the 100+ member Team IOH Marine Corps Marathon team in October. It’s an amazing feat for Kristen – a miracle for sure – training for and participating with Team IOH in the MCM. We have spots available for you, too, to join our team … alongside Kristen and Deric. Within each one of us is the desire to do something beyond our normal abilities – to push to new levels.
Here is the opportunity for you to accomplish new heights for yourself – running a marathon AND supporting children and their families – families with a parent diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. A parent, like Kristen, who is going through the “roller coaster” of a terminal diagnosis, and who is fighting to finish the “marathon”.
I am a woman fighting a terminal diagnosis of stage 4 liver cancer. But this does not define me. I am also a wife and a mother of three young children. My greatest struggle is not the cancer, but my efforts to balance my fight of the cancer with raising my family. My greatest concern is not the illness, but my children and how this illness is affecting them. I have watched my gentle, sweet son yell angrily at me because he does not know how to express his anger at the cancer. I have watched my older daughter insist that her siblings not talk about the fact that I am sick. And I have watched my baby girl ask other mothers what kind of cancer they have, assuming all mothers are like me. How do I help them navigate the scariness of my illness? You see, It was not only I who was diagnosed with this illness, it was my entire family.
My husband, Deric, and I founded Inheritance of Hope to serve the entire family of young parents like ourselves diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. We hope to offer a community where parents can encourage, support, and advise one another, and children can meet other children who understand their fears and struggles. We hope to offer memories that families will cherish for a lifetime, regardless of whether their parent lives a month or 60 years. We hope to offer resources to help navigate raising their family in the midst of crisis. And we hope to introduce or remind each of these families of the faith that has not only brought our own family through this time, but has greatly blessed us in the eye of our storm. – Kristen Milligan