The wintry weather in New York City was a bit of a challenge for the Rye family from Florida, but Joel Rye said it didn't stop his family from making memories at the Inheritance of Hope Legacy Retreat® in November 2013.
“We'll always remember all the people of IoH being so loving and giving,” he said. “It was just stress free.”
The past two years have been particularly challenging for Joel's family. Almost a decade after doctors first discovered melanoma on his ear, Joel learned his cancer had spread. Doctors said he had mere months to live.
“They painted a bad scenario,” Joel said. “It hit my wife and me like a freight train, and fear came over me. I just cried out to God and felt a peace come over me like I'd never felt before.”
Joel started clinical trials, and the Ryes began attending meetings of a local support group called Kids Together Against Cancer. Joel said his 10-year-old daughter, Hannah, particularly enjoyed KTAC, and the group introduced the Ryes to another family that had attended a Legacy Retreat®, an all-expenses-paid experience where families create lifelong memories while receiving the tools to navigate the challenges of terminal illness.
“They told us about going on the trip and how great it was, and I knew getting away would be a great thing for our family,” Joel said.
The Legacy Retreat® provided a rare opportunity to take a family trip and relax. Joel said a steakhouse dinner date with his wife, Maria, was a highlight, and Hannah had fun touring Times Square and watching performances.
“We almost felt like celebrities with people going out of their way to be there for us,” Joel said.
The Legacy Retreat® also gave Maria a chance to share experiences with other caregivers. Joel liked meeting other families at the retreat and offering support from his experiences.
“I've found a way to encourage others through my faith,” Joel said. “It's therapeutic for me.”
After a spiritual closing ceremony, the Rye Family returned home with a collection of photos and memorable experiences from their Legacy Retreat®. Since visiting New York that November, Joel switched clinical trials, and his health is improving toward remission.
“I'm just going to continue living life, enjoying it, and being thankful for the memories Inheritance of Hope gave me,” he said.