January 8, 2015 \ Rachel Jellinek
Making Memories

Heather and familyOver the recent holiday break, we volunteered on a different kind of video project. It was one that really resonated with us, particularly as parents. One of my sister’s friends, Heather, is 34 years old and has Stage 4 cancer. She has a daughter who is only 4-years old and doesn’t fully understand what is happening with her mom. So Heather wanted us to record a few stories and her explanation of “what cancer is” for Bri to have when she is old enough to understand.

In addition, the goal was to capture footage of Heather, her husband, Jeff, and Bri together, engaging in their routine family activities, which includes singing songs, dancing, playing dress-up, and snuggling while reading books.

The grace and strength with which Heather approached this project was absolutely incredible. Here are a couple of takeaways I would like to share with you:

Don’t come up with reasons for putting off things you want to do, because you don’t know when circumstances in life could change dramatically.

Life is busy. It’s easy to delay things until later, but you don’t know what hand life will deal you. If you want to go to Disneyworld, if you want to go whitewater rafting through the Grand Canyon, if you want to learn to play piano, do it now! Heather shared that in light of her diagnosis, she is truly able to stay focused on what is important to her and what is worth letting go of with the limited time that she has.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you’re in need. People want to help, but they often just don’t know how. Heather initially hesitated to reach out for financial help to cover her medical bills, anticipated funeral costs, and expenses for Bri’s future, and she talked with us about the need to get over that reluctance. As a result, the family has received generous support from friends, family and even strangers.

Capturing stories is not only about the outcome, but it is also about the process of connecting.

Spending several hours with Heather confirmed for me the value in sharing stories. We didn’t know her at all before we met last week, but we quickly connected with her. Sharing smiles, laughs (and tears) through stories creates, and strengthens, the bonds among us.

If you are inclined to learn more about Heather’s story, here is a link to her personal fundraising page.