Share our life-changing Legacy Retreat® experiences!
“I always shift back to hope and gratitude,” says Lynne Cao on how she deals with her metastatic breast cancer diagnosis. She isn’t sure why. Maybe it is because she has a good support system, maybe it is for her two young children, or maybe it is the undying optimism of an immigrant.
|Lynne Cao with her family--husband Mike and children Katherine and Carter--on their family’s IoH Legacy Retreat® to Orlando in February 2020|
“I pray, and pray, and pray, and then I pray some more,” shares Shirley Derricot on her approach to life. She is honest--there is a lot to pray for, from staying safe during the pandemic to hoping that her two Black sons stay safe out in the world.
For Jennifer Dorado, there is a way to live through a pandemic with metastatic breast cancer, “One day at a time.” The 37-year-old mother of three, former competitive softball player, and unrelenting optimist has a simple but effective outlook, “A positive mind gives you a positive future.” Staying upbeat as she wakes every day, and pushing through, no matter how sapped her energy may be, has helped her navigate the challenges of parenting with a terminal illness, because, she knows, “I have too much to fight for.”
|Jennifer Dorado’s family surrounds her with love on their IoH Legacy Retreat®|
Connections. That is what we do best here at Inheritance of Hope. Connecting families who feel isolated, scared, and often hopeless. So, how are those connections working now via Zoom?
In short, pretty well!
On August 21st-23rd, we welcomed 17 families to our second IoH eLegacy Retreat™. We haven’t hugged them in person yet, but we are family. There is nothing virtual about these relationships, and while the IoH experience can never fully be described, here is what some of our newest family members have to say.
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.
For Adam Hayden, “Storytelling is a pathway toward a meaningful life.” This nugget of wisdom, shared in his speech at the 2019 End Well Symposium, drives the narrative of Adam’s every day. Most people only think of death in the broadest of terms, but Adam, who holds a Master of Arts in philosophy, knows it is much more than an existential question. As a four-year glioblastoma multiforme brain tumor patient, one thing Adam claims to be most proud of is what he calls his relationship with the end of life.
Adam shares his story at the End Well Symposuim in December 2019
(Photo - Katie Ravas for Drew Altizer Photography)
This blog post was originally published in 2016, and these families have both had many changes since then--happy changes! The Loners now have two healthy grandchildren they enjoy spending time with, and are proud to report that their three grown children are thriving as well. Niece Abigale has volunteered on three Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatsⓇ, and collaborated with Craig in making this video: https://youtu.be/hnDAtDqcHKE last May for ALS awareness month in 2019.
Heather Crawford Dodd, now on staff at IoH, began volunteering on retreats in October 2016, not too long after this article was written. In May 2017, she met Tom Dodd, also a former family member served-turned volunteer. They married the following December and live in South Carolina with their four boys.
When we first ran this story, little did we know it was just the beginning. Heather, Dana, and Craig are in touch weekly--by text and often in person. Before the coronavirus pandemic, Dana and Craig would drive over an hour to Heather's home every few months and help prepare materials for upcoming IoH retreats. Even now, they frequently check on each other, and provide love and support both ways--as Heather looks to Dana for advice on how to be a good stepmom, "She is an incredibly patient, strong, and selfless woman and a huge inspiration and encouragement to me," remarked Heather. Dana calls Heather an angel sent just when she needed her most, and describes Heather in just the same way as Heather describes Dana, “she continues to be a source of inspiration and encouragement to me.”
We are honored to call these folks family and celebrate the hope they maintain and give to others.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If they stumble, the first will lift up his friend—but woe to anyone who is alone when he falls and there is no one to help him get up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
One of the goals of Inheritance of Hope (IoH) is to connect families. Families who are grieving a life-changing diagnosis, struggling with fears, and facing new realities draw strength from each other as they share experiences and burdens. Through IoH, new friendships are often formed that offer a depth of understanding many families can’t find elsewhere.
The support that is shared is sometimes intangible and immeasurable, yet always tremendous. Sometimes, the support may be tangible yet also tremendously immeasurable, as was the case when Heather Crawford donated a wheelchair van to fellow IoH family Craig and Dana Loner.
Hope--it’s in our title and it’s what we deliver. It is not found in the Magic Kingdom or at the Top of the Rock, but it is what we most want our families to find on their Legacy Retreat®.
|These 38 families were part of something big, and new for IoH!|
Jennifer O’Gorman’s number one piece of advice for families facing what she has faced is this: “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.”