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Family Spotlight: Amanda Coleman on her husband Mike’s Legacy

Of her family’s Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ, Amanda Coleman comments, “It’s pretty amazing what three days came to!” Amanda, her late husband Mike, and their daughter Leah joined IoH in May 2013 for an Orlando Legacy RetreatⓇ, while Mike was battling glioblastoma multiforme brain cancer. 

 

Mike had vacationed at Disney World as a child himself, which Amanda describes as “his favorite place on earth.”  Some of the family’s best memories from their trip were Leah meeting Princess Merida and Mike insisting on carrying his small daughter through the park when she began to tire out.  Amanda remembers, “He said he didn’t know how long he would be able to do that, and he wanted Leah to remember that it was her Daddy who carried her.”

 

Amanda, Leah and Mike on their Legacy RetreatⓇ

 

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Finding art in unexpected places

This collection of work was inspired by my mom for her perseverance and strong will. She has always been my role model and is the strongest woman I know. In the summer leading up to my junior year of high school, my mom was diagnosed with a stage four brain tumor called a glioblastoma. After my mom’s diagnosis, I became very involved in her treatments and doctors’ visits. I enjoyed accompanying her to appointments and often would ask the doctor and surgeon questions, so I could better understand what my mom was going through. At each appointment we would go over MRI and CT scans. First, to prepare for surgery, in which they would remove as much as they could. Secondly, to continue observing the growth or shrinkage of the tumor, post operation and treatments.

 

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Family Spotlight: Gabe and Erin Matheny’s survivor story

“If I could, I would make people go on an Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ,” says Gabe Matheny, former EMT from Corinth, Texas.  Diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme tumor, Gabe attended an Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ to Orlando with his family in May 2018.  “Originally, I was hesitant to go, but IoH was probably the biggest, best experience that has happened to us, and one of the best decisions we’ve ever made.  It was a huge relief for us, and we had so much fun with our kids.” He goes on, “Plus, the resources, the memories we got out of that, and the new friendships we still have...  There would have been absolutely no way for us to do that otherwise. From the first moment we got off the plane, the welcome we were given--the staff and volunteers just did so much. You could see it in their faces.”  Gabe pauses to consult with his wife, Erin, “what is the word I’m looking for?”

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Lighting a Candle for Hope

“Scents of Hope,” Marti Ogren’s candle business, is aptly named.  The preschool teacher, who also spent 35 years in a first grade classroom, has found her second calling, and her purpose is bigger than filling your home with pleasant fragrances.  Lest you get the wrong idea, Marti is passionate about the process of developing, testing, and making her soy-based candles. She embraces every step, from brainstorming new products to pouring the warm clear liquid and watching it cool to a creamy solid.  But, she is even more passionate about inspiring hope.

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Finding our way while helping others: longtime brain cancer survivors and caregivers share their experiences

One thing our IoH families all have in common is the desire to help others on this same road, and to make the path easier where possible.  Many of our families affected by brain cancer have particularly positive outlooks, and want to share that with anyone else facing this diagnosis.

 

Brain cancer Painting
Photo credit: Jordan Gersh (Orlando Legacy RetreatⓇ, Feb. 2017)

 

What you should know:

 

1. “It’s not a death sentence.  Yes, it’s terminal and I know that.  One day it will get me, but as of right now, it’s not.  Stay strong. Don’t let it get to you, be in the moment, and be there for other people.”  --Shannon Fogarty 

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The O’Gorman Family: What it means to keep hope in the face of cancer

Jennifer O’Gorman’s number one piece of advice for families facing what she has faced seems contradictory, “Everyone has lots of advice for you, but you have to do what you know is best and trust your gut.  You have to do what feels right for you.”

 

In May 2013, Jennifer’s husband Pat was diagnosed with a glioblastoma multiforme tumor in the front of his brain.  A mere eight days after surgery, he was determined to use his experience for good. Jennifer explains, “He felt like his mission was to touch one person every day and tell his story to give them hope.”  She pauses, and with a quiet laugh remembers, “He was never shy and would talk with anyone any chance he had.”

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From Black and White to Color. Cheryl and Matt Broyles describe their faith in the midst of brain cancer

If Cheryl Broyles is a little more teary-eyed than most moms at Oregon State University's graduation this spring, she has good reason.  When her son Grant receives his degree, she just might be thinking about how she never even expected to see him start kindergarten.

 

In July 2000, Cheryl was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma Multiforme brain tumor and told she had a year to live, more or less.  At the time, her children Grant and Clint were three and one. Miraculously, Cheryl has seen them graduate from high school and set out on their own career paths, which, not-so-coincidentally, reflect the values she and her husband Matt have pursued.  The family of wildlife biologists had plenty of experience putting their passion into practice during summer vacations when they celebrated each anniversary of Cheryl’s survival with a huge outdoor adventure.

 

Matt, Clint, Cheryl, and Grant on their 2010 Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ
Matt, Clint, Cheryl, and Grant on their 2010 Inheritance of Hope Legacy RetreatⓇ

 

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Jenna Maier Cooks Up Cash for Inheritance of Hope Families!

Jenna Maier, 14, wants to “ show that no matter your age, you can make a difference.”  The Willow Creek Middle School eighth grader from Rochester, Minnesota, has done just that.  In November, Jenna cooked up a fundraising campaign for Inheritance of Hope. By February, she had raised $500 selling homemade cookies.  

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My name is Kim Brock. I'm Kristen's twin sister.

 

Those who come into the world with another person, a twin, are never alone.  The lives of identical twins are so innately blended together that moving from an “us” to a “me” can seem impossible.  Losing Kris meant losing my identity--my PLURAL identity--and all of a sudden, I have found myself having to “grow up” all over again as a singular “individual.”  It is curious… exceptional… unnatural. 

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Communicating and giving through art

Hannah Black will graduate from high school on March 22, just days ahead of her 22nd birthday, and when she does, her contagious smile will say what words cannot.  The young artist is unable to use speech to communicate, but expresses herself through facial cues, a generous spirit, and art. No diploma could ever capture Hannah’s accomplishments.  

 

Last year Hannah sold her artwork and donated all proceeds to Inheritance of Hope (IoH),  a nonprofit organization serving young families in which a parent has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.  Hannah knows the struggles of IoH families all too well, as she lost her own mother Laura to glioblastoma in April 2016.

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