Henry Nicsinger was cured of cancer once, then he was cured again, and again, and again, and again. Diagnosed with testicular cancer at 31, declared cancer-free after undergoing surgery, Henry went through surgery once more twenty years later when he was found to have a second primary bilateral occurrence of the disease.
I have the privilege to work with 1st-3rd graders at the church I attend in California.
A few weeks back I was teaching about the anointing of young David to be the next king of Israel, and I really loved the truth that we were driving home for the kids, so I’d like to share it with you. Of course it’s slightly adapted as y’all aren’t 1st-3rd graders... but it’s a timeless truth that I think is SO fitting for Legacy Retreats.
This piece was originally posted on October 12, 2017 as Inheritance of Hope celebrated Kendra Scott's "Holley Day, in remembrance of Kendra's dear friend, Holley Kitchen. Holley and her family were served on an Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ in May 2015, just eight short months before she passed away from metastatic breast cancer. February 13, 2019 would have been her 46th birthday. Happy Heavenly birthday, Holley!
Of all the things Holley Kitchen wanted to be—wife, mother, sister, daughter, friend—the role she is most widely known for is something no one wants to be: the face of metastatic breast cancer. Like most true heroes, Holley was an ordinary woman facing extraordinary circumstances. How she soared beyond those confines will forever define her as a champion of this disease.
Shannon Fogarty holds the distinction of being one of our most successful fundraisers who is also a past retreat participant. To date, this family member served-turned Inheritance of Hope super fundraiser has sent six families on a life-changing Legacy RetreatⓇ. Just a year after he was diagnosed with a malignant, inoperable brain tumor, Shannon attended the August 2011 Orlando retreat with his wife Alicia and daughter Alexa.
One of the newest members of the Inheritance of Hope family plans to come back as soon as she can. Dionna Koval turned in her volunteer application just weeks after participating in our NYC Legacy RetreatⓇ this past November. Before their retreat, Dionna and her son Diego, 17, were understandably nervous and unsure of what to expect. “I told him to just give it a chance,” she shared, “I didn’t know what it would be like either, and we decided we would just see how it went. The first night, Diego said, ‘I kind of like this,’ and afterwards on the way home, he hugged me, thanked me, and said it was one of the best trips ever.”
While most people were eating leftovers or searching for Black Friday deals, on the day after Thanksgiving in 2016, Tracy Higley was diagnosed with de novo stage IV metastatic breast cancer. This was her first incidence of cancer, thus the label “de novo,” a less common variant of the disease.
“Overwhelmed” would be an understatement in describing how she and her family felt. “We were reeling,” Tracy said. Approached a few months later by a breast cancer survivor at a basketball game, Tracy learned about Inheritance of Hope and considered applying. She remembers feeling hesitant, “I didn’t feel like I needed it, and didn’t want to take another’s spot. I also didn’t want to put my kids through this sad thing. But, then I talked to Betsy at IoH, and even without meeting her, I felt so comfortable. I knew this organization really cared about our family.” Tracy, her husband Troy, and their blended family of three children attended the Kendra Scott-sponsored Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando in January 2018.
Tarah Harvey doesn’t beat around the bush, “I have metastatic breast cancer and know I am terminal.” In January, Tarah, her husband Sam, and their children Hannah and Braxton were one of ten families sponsored by Kendra Scott on an Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando. The all-expenses-paid trip, solely for young families affected by metastatic breast cancer, offered participants the chance to make precious memories together, meet others facing the same challenges, and take home tools to help navigate this difficult time in their lives.
In the fall of 2016, Melinda Hodge had a routine, normal mammogram. Six months later, a lump was discovered at her yearly well visit, and she was subsequently diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Scans showed that it had already spread to her brain and bones, and she was told she had 18 months or less to live. 18 months to do all the things she had planned and hoped to do, and 18 months to pour as much love as possible into her three daughters, ages 16, 14, and nine at the time.
When asked why she gives her time to Inheritance of Hope, Dionna Koval quickly and confidently replied, “Because you gave my son the hope I wanted him to have.” Now, she has committed to share that same gift by volunteering for IoH. Living with metastatic breast cancer, Dionna is in good company. Tracy Higley, Melinda Hodge, and Tarah Harvey share the same diagnosis and dare it to determine their outlook. Along with Kendra Scott and IoH, they work to inspire hope in others affected by the disease.
Lauren Latimer vividly remembers her introduction to Inheritance of Hope, “When my mom first told me she wanted our family to go on an IoH Legacy RetreatⓇ, I was like, ‘Sorry. That doesn’t sound like fun. I don’t want to go on a cancer retreat.’” The Latimers--mom Karen, dad Rob, Lauren, and her sister Anna--attended the January 2016 retreat to Orlando over their daughters’ objections. Lauren, at the time 17, admits that her mom guilted her into going. Now a repeat IoH volunteer, she is more than happy to concede, “A depressing ‘cancer retreat’ is the exact opposite of what IoH is. By the end of the weekend, the volunteers and other families were my family, and I didn't want to leave. And, that is the consensus of everyone who comes on a retreat.”