“There’s a really big need to tell your story,” said Julie Hull of Eagan, Minn.
Julie’s husband, Ken, was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer after a blood clot was found in his calf three years ago. Ken was a long-distance runner, and the cancer stunned Julie and their 12-year-old son, Sam.
“It drew us into a totally different plane,” Julie said.
Soon the Hulls were making routine hospital visits. Ken underwent 18 rounds of chemotherapy, 10 rounds of radiation, and two brain surgeries.
“We were just at the doctor all the time so we weren’t really doing anything for ourselves,” Julie said. “We didn’t really know that we needed to go to a place like a Legacy Retreat® where there are other people going through the same thing.”
The Hull family’s pastor suggested they attend Inheritance of Hope’s Legacy Retreat® for families living with life-threatening illnesses. Julie said the Hulls had been fortunate to take several trips as a family, and she initially had hesitations about the retreat, but the family attended the Legacy Retreat® in New York City in November 2011.
The trip was unlike any other for Sam, who was 10 years old at the time.
“He said he loved the retreat in New York because it was the first time since his dad was sick that he felt like everybody else,” Julie said. “He didn’t feel different. I think it’s just that supportive feeling that the retreat gave us.”
Julie said it can be difficult to explain cancer to people unfamiliar with the disease, but the Hulls met other families with life-threatening illnesses at the retreat. She and Ken told their stories at the Legacy Retreat®, and the Hulls still stay in touch with the people they met in New York City.
“Telling your story in a group of like-minded individuals is really healing,” she said. “I know I’ll be bound to these people I went to the retreat with.”
The Hulls attended the IoH retreat a day after one of Ken’s radiation treatments, but he still had the strength to wake up early and walk to a spot on the Thanksgiving parade route. Treatments continued after the Legacy Retreat®, and the Hulls went to Chicago for six months of experimental chemotherapy.
“This was a guy who really really wanted to live and really fought until the last breath,” Julie said.
Ken passed away in February 2013, at age 59. He had recorded a Legacy Video message that Julie said has been a blessing for his son.
“That was a gift that he would not have done had it not been for the Legacy Retreat®.”
Julie said Sam is a rock-star musician who hopes to return to IoH as a volunteer. As for her, listening to other children of parents with life-threatening illnesses at the Legacy Retreat® gave her hope for the future.
“You don’t even know that kind of community exists. It’s such a unique, wonderful, and amazing thing.”