Meet the Coleman Family

Mike Coleman wears a patch to treat tumors in his brain that his 5-year-old daughter, Leah, calls his “snow cap.”

Leah has started kindergarten, joined the Girl Scouts, and loves dancing and Disney princesses. Although she may not know the technical term for her dad’s Novocure device, the Colemans from Lock Haven, Penn., started making efforts to include Leah in the treatment of Mike’s brain cancer.

“We don’t hide things from her now,” said Leah’s mom, Amanda. “She knew something was different with daddy.”

Doctors removed a tumor from Mike’s brain after he collapsed at home on Halloween two years ago. Mike stayed in the hospital for two weeks, and he underwent radiation and chemotherapy treatments for several months. Meanwhile, Amanda and Mike avoided talking about cancer with their daughter.

“We wouldn’t say the word ‘cancer’ around her, and we thought it was for the best if we didn’t mention it,” Amanda said.

Amanda found a link to Inheritance of Hope on a brain cancer website and was immediately interested in Legacy Retreats® for young families facing the loss of a parent.

“I’d been searching for something about how to talk to your children, and this came at the perfect time,” she said.

The Colemans submitted an application and were relaxing and making memories at the May 2013 Orlando Legacy Retreat® in a matter of weeks. Leah remembers meeting new friends and playing games with the kids and retreat staff.  Amanda and Mike went on a date night and shared experiences with other families.

“It was just nice to meet people who are in the same circumstance trying to explain to their kids what’s going on with their parent,” Mike said.

Amanda said the Legacy Retreat® revealed how much Leah understood about Mike’s illness and provided support for discussing cancer with her daughter. Leah now goes to the doctor with her parents for Mike’s checkups as a result of what they learned from Inheritance of Hope.

“I don’t know if I would have done that without the retreat,” Amanda said.

Once the Colemans returned from Orlando, Mike started filling a box with keepsakes to give Leah for milestones like starting kindergarten or graduating high school. The Colemans are expecting a baby boy in April, and Mike said he will continue the tradition of making memories.

“The main thing I got out of the retreat was to build memories, and the retreat was just a starting point,” he said.

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Carol Gehret

    Thank you to this organization for giving Michael and his family a venue for learning and sharing. Michael is a courageous father who continues to hold down his job, do household chores, and care for his family. Whatever God has in store for the future of the Colemans, they are living life to the fullest and as Michael says…creating memories, something that each of us should concentrate on doing regardless of our circumstances. Each day is truly a gift from God…embrace it, cherish it, and remember it! Thank you again to this remarkable organization!

  2. Danielle

    Amanda and Mike go to my church. Amanda and I met through my sister in law who was their next door neighbor at the time of Mike’s collapse. They are an amazing family. Whenever I see Mike at church he is smiling and in such good spirits. He is an inspiration to the rest of us. When we are going through difficult times this family reminds us to stay positive by their actions. Love you Amanda! Awesome Article!

  3. Helen Barrett

    Amanda referenced your organization and website. I am also thankful they have connected with other families in similar medical situations. Great article and pictures – thankful for your outreach to many families. Each day is a gift from God. It is touching to read Mike has grasped and implementing the idea of the memories box for his children. Thank you for sharing their story.

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