Amy and Adam Patwa attended an Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat® in Orlando with their daughter, Charis, in May 2012.
“The timing of it was totally perfect,” Amy said. “I can’t walk around Magic Kingdom today.”
She was diagnosed with stage III breast cancer in summer 2010, but chemotherapy and radiation appeared to control the disease in a matter of months.
In spring 2011 Amy started having chest pains.
“Once you’ve been diagnosed with cancer, you pay attention to everything,” she said.
A checkup and scans showed Amy’s cancer had returned, and she began new treatments in August 2011. The cancer has resisted trial therapies and more than a year of medical care. Amy is now on her eighth different type of chemotherapy.
Amy continued working until last year, and church friends stepped in to help. The Patwa’s pastor encouraged them to start making memories with their only child.
Charis was seven months old when her mother was first diagnosed.
“You’re excited to throw yourself into raising your only child, then you get a serious curveball,” Adam said. “It helps us see her as such a gift. She came to us at a time when it’s nice to have her as a source of joy.”
The Patwas said they applied to attend the Inheritance of Hope retreat for an opportunity to share a free trip to Disney World with their young daughter. Amy’s health was stable enough for her to enjoy the park, and the family made the most of chances to make memories. They met other families living with terminal illnesses and spent time together.
“You go to the hospital and the doctor and you’re always the youngest person there. It can be very wearing on you,” Adam said. “I definitely felt I met people on our similar journey.”
Volunteers handled details during the Legacy Retreat® weekend with enthusiasm, Adam said. The Patwas recalled volunteers providing opportunities to speak with counselors and caring for Charis while Adam and Amy went on a date night.
“I had experienced volunteerism before, but Inheritance of Hope took it to a whole other level,” Amy said.
Although their pastor exposed the Patwas to the idea of leaving a legacy before the Legacy Retreat®, Adam and Amy said they left the weekend with new concrete ideas for Charis. Amy said she has been working on special birthday cards for her daughter in the future.
She has a list of topics for letters to Charis, but Inheritance of Hope introduced the Legacy Video, a clip Amy recorded to show her daughter in the event of Amy’s death.
“We actually walked away with something tangible to leave a legacy,” Adam said of the video. “It captures the emotion. That’s something you can’t recreate.”
Amy said May 2012 was the perfect time to attend the Legacy Retreat® in Orlando because her health has declined since then. She lost weight after months of chemo and spent the first week of September in the hospital. Fortunately she had energy during the retreat.
“I was able to really enjoy it,” she said. “We left there blown away.”
Editor’s Note: Amy died on January 5, 2013, shortly after this post was written. We are glad she was part of the Inheritance of Hope family, and our prayers are with Adam and Charis.