Kim Bunner said living with cancer for more than a decade has given her perspective.
The illness brought her closer to her husband, Matt, and showed her children, 15-year-old Haylee and 12-year-old Cameron, how to be considerate, Kim said.
“You hate to say that something that is so hard on a family is a blessing,” she said.
“We see what stress really is and what stress really isn’t.”
Kim was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001, when Cameron was six months old.
The cancer has progressed each year and has spread to her lymph nodes, Kim said. But Kim used her experience to support other cancer patients as her own physical limitations increased. She said she mentors and answers questions for friends of friends or people she meets at the doctor’s office.
“I’ve always tried to help other people, and I feel like that’s what God’s purpose for me is,” she said.
Haylee and Cameron followed their mother’s example, keeping a positive attitude and fundraising for cancer research. But the Bunners from Pennsylvania rarely had opportunities to unwind, Kim said. They needed a vacation, and Haylee and Cameron wanted to go to Disney World, but Matt said it was too difficult to take a trip.
The Bunners heard about Inheritance of Hope and its Legacy Retreats® from a friend. They applied and, to the delight of Haylee and Cameron, learned they would travel to Disney World for free.
“The kids were going berserk,” Kim said. “It’s nice when you’re sick to have something like that to look forward to.”
Kim said her family was immediately impressed by “an overwhelming feeling of being welcomed” at the Orlando Legacy Retreat® in May of 2012. Volunteers assisted the Bunners and facilitated meaningful activities like games that helped Haylee and Cameron confront their frustrations.
“They both told me how much the games made them feel better,” Kim said.
“The other thing that made them feel better was knowing there were other kids and other families going through the same things they were,” Matt said.
The Legacy Retreat® introduced Kim and Matt to other parents and also to the notion of leaving a legacy for their kids. Matt said the retreat reminded him to take advantage of time with his family and appreciate moments he normally takes for granted.
“When Kim can walk in her garden, that’s joy,” he said.
Inspired by Inheritance of Hope co-founder Kristen Milligan, the Bunners have made efforts to create memories in the year since their retreat, Kim said.
“She gave me a lot of hope and sometimes, when you’re not feeling the best, you don’t feel like you have the strength to do those extra things,” Kim said. “It takes a lot to go to a card store and pick up cards for your kids that you know you’re not gonna be around to give them, but I’ve put a lot of thought in that and that’s given me a lot of peace.”