Ashlea Milligan’s parents Kristen and Deric founded Inheritance of Hope together after Kristen was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Ashlea has perspective that resonates with the broader IoH family, and through her writing, hopes to shed light on issues surrounding terminal illness and those who are left behind in its wake. She wrote her first installment in this series earlier, and continues to share her thoughts.
Bringing hope to everyday lives!
Coming to college and discussing childhood with my friends has been a fascinating exploration. My roommates and I come from different backgrounds. While we all grew up under similar circumstances, all American, UNC Chapel Hill-bound children, there are variances that I find striking. Listening to them recount their childhoods is always slightly surprising, and brings out the nuances of my childhood that were contrary to those of my friends. I have begun to recognize how different growing up with a sick parent actually makes your life - the before, after, and during.
|Ashlea and her mom, Kristen|
I didn’t know Holley Kitchen but I visualize her face when I hear her name. She has cute blonde hair and expressive eyes. When I first searched online for metastatic breast cancer in 2016, her powerful video was one of the first advocacy pieces that I saw. I cried at the computer when I watched and then I called my husband to sit beside me so we could watch it together. I handed him a Kleenex. Like Holley, I was a young mother that will be fighting cancer until my journey on earth is over.
|Holley Kitchen used her voice for good|
There’s something irreplaceable about intentionality, no matter how small the gesture. I, for one, would prefer a thoughtful, handwritten note over a lavish gift of my own choosing. However, it can be very difficult to find the time and energy to go out of your way emotionally. But, because I believe in the value of intentionality, I’ve found a few fun things to do that make it feel like less of an endeavor and more of a creative activity. The list is quite standard, but I have added a personal twist to make it a little more fun. As a huge bonus, the recipient of your gift will recognize the extra effort put into their gift, and feel all the more loved as a result!
“Scents of Hope,” Marti Ogren’s candle business, is aptly named. The preschool teacher, who also spent 35 years in a first grade classroom, has found her second calling, and her purpose is bigger than filling your home with pleasant fragrances. Lest you get the wrong idea, Marti is passionate about the process of developing, testing, and making her soy-based candles. She embraces every step, from brainstorming new products to pouring the warm clear liquid and watching it cool to a creamy solid. But, she is even more passionate about inspiring hope.
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.
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.
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.
Geoff Lewis was 31 years old, engaged, and a new business owner when he was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer in 2007. For eight years, he “fought like hell,” according to his younger brother Josh. A hard-worker and optimist until the very end, Geoff passed away in March 2015. He left behind his wife Sandy, six-year-old daughter Landyn, and their nephew Wayne, whom the couple was raising.
|Geoff (center), Josh, and their Dad in NYC|
In December, our family was accepted for an all-expenses paid vacation courtesy of Inheritance of Hope (IoH). IoH provides Legacy Retreats for families with children age 18 and younger in which a parent has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. The four-day trip is full of fun, and intentional activities are planned to help families like ours with all we are facing.
|The Mosier family arrives in Orlando for their Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat.|