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Finding our way while helping others: longtime brain cancer survivors and caregivers share their experiences

One thing our IoH families all have in common is the desire to help others on this same road, and to make the path easier where possible.  Many of our families affected by brain cancer have particularly positive outlooks, and want to share that with anyone else facing this diagnosis.

 

Brain cancer Painting
Photo credit: Jordan Gersh (Orlando Legacy RetreatⓇ, Feb. 2017)

 

What you should know:

 

1. “It’s not a death sentence.  Yes, it’s terminal and I know that.  One day it will get me, but as of right now, it’s not.  Stay strong. Don’t let it get to you, be in the moment, and be there for other people.”  --Shannon Fogarty 

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The O’Gorman Family: What it means to keep hope in the face of cancer

Jennifer O’Gorman’s number one piece of advice for families facing what she has faced seems contradictory, “Everyone has lots of advice for you, but you have to do what you know is best and trust your gut.  You have to do what feels right for you.”

 

In May 2013, Jennifer’s husband Pat was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme tumor in the front of his brain.  A mere eight days after surgery, he was determined to use his experience for good. Jennifer explains, “He felt like his mission was to touch one person every day and tell his story to give them hope.”  She pauses, and with a quiet laugh remembers, “He was never shy and would talk with anyone any chance he had.”

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From Black and White to Color. Cheryl and Matt Broyles describe their faith in the midst of brain cancer

If Cheryl Broyles is a little more teary-eyed than most moms at Oregon State University's graduation this spring, she has good reason.  When her son Grant receives his degree, she just might be thinking about how she never even expected to see him start kindergarten.

 

In July 2000, Cheryl was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme brain tumor and told she had a year to live, more or less.  At the time, her children Grant and Clint were three and one. Miraculously, Cheryl has seen them graduate from high school and set out on their own career paths, which, not-so-coincidentally, reflect the values she and her husband Matt have pursued.  The family of wildlife biologists had plenty of experience putting their passion into practice during summer vacations when they celebrated each anniversary of Cheryl’s survival with a huge outdoor adventure.

 

Matt, Clint, Cheryl, and Grant on their 2010 Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ
Matt, Clint, Cheryl, and Grant on their 2010 Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ

 

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The Hope of Heaven

I am so excited that Kendra Scott has partnered with Inheritance of Hope to sponsor Legacy Retreats. She sponsors Legacy Retreats to honor her friend Holley's legacy, and the reason that I am involved with Inheritance of Hope is because I am carrying on my friend Kristen's legacy. I can definitely relate to Kendra's heart in this mission, and it is such a pleasure to team up with her to honor our friends together.

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Jenna Maier Cooks Up Cash for Inheritance of Hope Families!

Jenna Maier, 14, wants to “ show that no matter your age, you can make a difference.”  The Willow Creek Middle School eighth grader from Rochester, Minnesota, has done just that.  In November, Jenna cooked up a fundraising campaign for Inheritance of Hope. By February, she had raised $500 selling homemade cookies.  

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Volunteer Spotlight: Katelyn Hodge turns 18 while volunteering!

“I wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere else for my birthday,” said Katelyn Hodge of turning 18 while serving on the most recent Kendra Scott-sponsored Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando.  The feeling was mutual--and we hope to celebrate 19 with her as well!

 

Events Director, Betsy Ogren, surprises Katelyn on her 18th birthday
Events Director, Betsy Ogren, surprises Katelyn on her 18th birthday
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Meet our new Coordinator: Jen Roett

When Jen Roett saw Kendra Scott’s metastatic breast cancer necklace charm set on Instagram, “I was like, ‘done!’” she raves, “And I bought it as soon as it came out.”  One-year-old daughter Kennedy loved it as much as mom, and when she reached in to get a closer look, pulled the necklace right off Jen’s neck.

 

Jen went to the Kendra Scott website to find out how she could get her brand-new jewelry repaired, stumbled upon the relationship between Kendra Scott and Inheritance of Hope, and she says, “I began hysterically sobbing, I was so moved.”  The very next day, Jen signed up to volunteer on the February 2019 Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando, which was sponsored by Kendra Scott, for families affected by metastatic breast cancer.   

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For the Glory of God

I’ve been thinking about Martha from the Bible a lot lately. Martha often gets a bad rap due to her busyness in wanting to serve the Lord, while her sister Mary was content with just being at Jesus’ feet. It’s often preached to us that we should be “a Mary in a Martha world,” but there’s a piece of Martha’s story that we often forget about.

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My name is Kim Brock. I'm Kristen's twin sister.

 

Those who come into the world with another person, a twin, are never alone.  The lives of identical twins are so innately blended together that moving from an “us” to a “me” can seem impossible.  Losing Kris meant losing my identity--my PLURAL identity--and all of a sudden, I have found myself having to “grow up” all over again as a singular “individual.”  It is curious… exceptional… unnatural. 

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Communicating and giving through art

Hannah Black will graduate from high school on March 22, just days ahead of her 22nd birthday, and when she does, her contagious smile will say what words cannot.  The young artist is unable to use speech to communicate, but expresses herself through facial cues, a generous spirit, and art. No diploma could ever capture Hannah’s accomplishments.  

 

Last year Hannah sold her artwork and donated all proceeds to Inheritance of Hope (IoH),  a nonprofit organization serving young families in which a parent has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.  Hannah knows the struggles of IoH families all too well, as she lost her own mother Laura to glioblastoma in April 2016.

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