I have never met Kendra Scott or her friend, Holley Kitchen, but I think we have a lot in common. I’ve seen enough photos to know that we each appreciate statement jewelry, selfies and the strength of friends that are so close that they feel like family. (Sometimes, it’s even better than family.) But, the thread that links us together feels more like a noose – we are strong women who faced the demon of metastatic breast cancer.
Jake Anderson can’t describe his wife Becky without mentioning her smile, “You don't have to say anything else--you could just see her smile.” That smile was a window into how Becky lived with her metastatic breast cancer diagnosis amidst raising three young children.
According to Jake, Becky was always hopeful, and while he can't pinpoint exactly how she maintained her hope and faith, he does have a name for it, “I think if you knew her, well, there was a grace about her. She would put everyone else at ease,” he says. “It felt like everything was ok because she was ok. She made it easy for everybody and always looked on the bright side--right from the beginning. I think the word for her is grace,” he pauses, “and then, there was the smile.”
|Becky’s bright smile showed her love for life|
Two weeks before Kendra Scott’s company-wide event, Ally Dee knew Holley Day was “something big.” As a Kendra Scott sales associate, Ally especially enjoyed meeting guests and welcoming nonprofits that benefit from the jewelry designer’s generous philanthropy. Holley Day would prove to be even more than she expected.
Ally remembers, “The energy that day was different. Kendra Scott stores have a lot of events, but we all knew this was special. I always liked talking to the people who came in from different organizations and learning about what they do, so I started talking to the Inheritance of Hope rep, not really thinking it was going to be this big. I’m glad I did!”
Luke Milligan, the middle child and only son of IoH Co-Founders Kristen and Deric Milligan, knows how much his mom loved him. Kristen made sure her presence and love would be felt through gifts, videos, and letters long after her premature death forced her to leave him at a formidable age.
The gifts that I have received from my Mom following her death have been of immeasurable value, but no more so than the ones I received from her while she was alive. The true value of her gifts have come from the knowledge that she was considering me and my future years before I was. The intentionality that she displayed as a mother is something I intend to replicate, whether or not I am diagnosed with a terminal cancer.
“This is important--you should do it even if you don’t want to.” --Rebecca Milligan
Rebecca Milligan has invaluable advice for terminally ill parents. Still in elementary school when her mother, Kristen, died, Rebecca is now seventeen, and can honestly say that her mother’s presence has not only stayed with her, but continues to be a strong factor in decisions she makes today. You may wonder, “how?”
IoH Co-Founder, Kristen, with her daughter Rebecca
October 26th marks the seventh anniversary of when Inheritance of Hope Co-Founder Kristen Milligan passed away. In those seven years, her children have reached milestone birthdays, high school rites of passage, started driving, and two have gone off to college. Through changes and achievements, growing pains and successes, they have never felt far from their mother’s love, all because of the notes, gifts, videos and more that Kristen prepared while living with a terminal illness.
There’s something irreplaceable about intentionality, no matter how small the gesture. I, for one, would prefer a thoughtful, handwritten note over a lavish gift of my own choosing. However, it can be very difficult to find the time and energy to go out of your way emotionally. But, because I believe in the value of intentionality, I’ve found a few fun things to do that make it feel like less of an endeavor and more of a creative activity. The list is quite standard, but I have added a personal twist to make it a little more fun. As a huge bonus, the recipient of your gift will recognize the extra effort put into their gift, and feel all the more loved as a result!
Inheritance of Hope was founded in 2007 by Kristen and Deric Milligan, and although Kristen passed away in 2012, her legacy is timeless.
I am a woman fighting a terminal diagnosis of stage 4 liver cancer. But this does not define me. I am also a wife and a mother of three young children. My greatest struggle is not the cancer, but my efforts to balance my fight of the cancer with raising my family. My greatest concern is not the illness, but my children and how this illness affects them. I have watched my gentle, sweet son yell angrily at me because he does not know how to express his anger at the cancer. I have watched my older daughter insist that her siblings not talk about the fact that I am sick. And I have watched my baby girl ask other mothers what kind of cancer they have, assuming all mothers are like me. How do I help them navigate the scariness of my illness? You see, it was not only I who was diagnosed with this illness, it was my entire family.
My husband, Deric, and I founded Inheritance of Hope to serve the entire family of young parents like ourselves diagnosed with a life-threatening illness. Through our Legacy Retreats, we offer a community where parents can encourage, support, and advise one another, and children can meet other children who understand their fears and struggles. We offer memories that families will cherish for a lifetime, regardless of whether their parent lives a month or 60 years. We offer resources to help navigate raising their family in the midst of crisis. And we introduce or remind each of these families of the faith that has not only brought our own family through this time, but has also greatly blessed us in the eye of our storm.
Read more about Kristen's legacy.6.2.6