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Faces of Holley Day: Jake Anderson honors his wife’s memory by paying it forward

Jake Anderson can’t describe his wife Becky without mentioning her smile, “You don't have to say anything else--you could just see her smile.”  That smile was a window into how Becky lived with her metastatic breast cancer diagnosis amidst raising three young children.  

 

According to Jake, Becky was always hopeful, and while he can't pinpoint exactly how she maintained her hope and faith, he does have a name for it, “I think if you knew her, well, there was a grace about her.  She would put everyone else at ease,” he says. “It felt like everything was ok because she was ok. She made it easy for everybody and always looked on the bright side--right from the beginning. I think the word for her is grace,” he pauses, “and then, there was the smile.” 

 

Becky’s bright smile showed her love for life
Becky’s bright smile showed her love for life
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Luke Milligan on the Importance of Legacy Gifts and Videos his mom Kristen left for him

 

Luke Milligan, the middle child and only son of IoH Co-Founders Kristen and Deric Milligan, knows how much his mom loved him.  Kristen made sure her presence and love would be felt through gifts, videos, and letters long after her premature death forced her to leave him at a formidable age.

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The Gifts of My Mother

The gifts that I have received from my Mom following her death have been of immeasurable value, but no more so than the ones I received from her while she was alive. The true value of her gifts have come from the knowledge that she was considering me and my future years before I was. The intentionality that she displayed as a mother is something I intend to replicate, whether or not I am diagnosed with a terminal cancer.

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Rebecca Milligan on the importance of leaving children a legacy

“This is important--you should do it even if you don’t want to.”  --Rebecca Milligan

 

Rebecca Milligan has invaluable advice for terminally ill parents. Still in elementary school when her mother, Kristen, died, Rebecca is now seventeen, and can honestly say that her mother’s presence has not only stayed with her, but continues to be a strong factor in decisions she makes today. You may wonder, “how?”

 

 IoH Co-Founder, Kristen, with her daughter Rebecca

 

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Remembering our Co-Founder, Kristen Milligan

October 26th marks the seventh anniversary of when Inheritance of Hope Co-Founder Kristen Milligan passed away.  In those seven years, her children have reached milestone birthdays, high school rites of passage, started driving, and two have gone off to college.  Through changes and achievements, growing pains and successes, they have never felt far from their mother’s love, all because of the notes, gifts, videos and more that Kristen prepared while living with a terminal illness.

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My Reasons for Starting Inheritance of Hope

Inheritance of Hope was founded in 2007 by Kristen and Deric Milligan, and although Kristen passed away in 2012, her legacy is timeless. 

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 affects 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.  Through our Legacy Retreats, we 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 offer memories that families will cherish for a lifetime, regardless of whether their parent lives a month or 60 years.  We offer resources to help navigate raising their family in the midst of crisis.  And we introduce or remind each of these families of the faith that has not only brought our own family through this time, but has also greatly blessed us in the eye of our storm.

 

Read more about Kristen's legacy. 

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Faces of Holley Day: Metastatic breast cancer patients reciprocate love through Inheritance of Hope and Kendra Scott

First posted on January 22, 2019 in advance of the Kendra Scott-sponsored Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ. We celebrate these amazing women and their commitment to give back!

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.

 

All four of these women could choose to give their time to several organizations, but after attending Legacy RetreatsⓇ with their families, these women chose IoH.  Each was eager to serve as they had been served. Tarah helped out at her local Kendra Scott store this past October on Holley Day, a special in-store event when a portion of all sales were donated to IoH.  She and Dionna have also filled out applications to volunteer on a future retreat, and Dionna will be contributing from home in February.

 

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Faces of Holley Day: Joni Morris and her daughters Inspire Hope on Holley Day

Originally posted on October 4, 2018, we honor Joni and the legacy she left for her family. Joni passed away in July 2019, but used her time to live purposefully and give back to others facing what she faced.

 

Joni Morris is one of the faces of Kendra Scott’s Holley Day.  She also has metastatic breast cancer. Along with her teenage daughters Kendra and Rylee, Joni is raising awareness for Inheritance of Hope in order to give other families the gift that they themselves received. The Morrises attended an all-expenses-paid Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando in March, where they met other families in which a parent has been diagnosed with a terminal illness, received tools for navigating the difficulties they face, and perhaps, most importantly, made lifelong memories together.

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Faces of Holley Day: Andrea Albanese receives a Kendra Scott gift that raises spirits and funds for IoH

As a young widow raising five children, Andrea Albanese wants her late husband Jim to be remembered and acknowledged. “Culturally, we are afraid of grief and afraid to say the name of the person who passed away,” she laments.  “People might drop off a casserole and run. But, I would say to please talk about my husband with my kids. They want to hear about their father. He is still part of our lives.”   

 

And that is exactly why a special gift created just for Andrea made such an impression on her last October. 

 

Andrea and Jim shortly before he passed away
Andrea and Jim shortly before he passed away
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Who is Holley Kitchen?

  

How can I make a memory with my kids today that will last them a lifetime?

 

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. 

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